Wharf design can avoid Sound harm
A “skeletal” wharf could be constructed at Kwinana as a way of minimising the environmental damage of building a new container port in the ecologically fragile Cockburn Sound, according to a McGowan Government advisory body.
Nicole Lockwood, the chairwoman of the Westport task force investigating the future of WA’s container trade, said Kwinana was looming as the most likely option for a new freight port once Fremantle reached capacity in coming decades.
With growing concerns about the environmental effect of building a port in Cockburn Sound, which has been hit by seagrass loss, marine life deaths and poor water quality, Ms Lockwood said there were ways of “mitigating” further harm.
New construction methods and materials meant ports could be built in a skeletal or floating form to avoid disturbing the sea floor.
Ms Lockwood also suggested the Government could offset any environmental effects associated with a new port by protecting other parts of Cockburn Sound in marine sanctuary zones.
“If you look around the world, there are some fantastic examples of ports being built in very fragile environments,” she said.
“The technology in terms of delivering ports now is significantly different than it has been in the past and one of the opportunities we’re looking at is what’s called a skeletal port.
“It’s very light-touch from a seabed perspective.
“It sits on sort of pylons rather than being a totally soil-filled wharf of jetty.
“So it sits on the surface of the water and is supported ... to really minimise impact.”
According to Ms Lockwood, increasing “resilience” in Cockburn Sound ahead of construction was vital and could be done by restoring seagrass coverage and health in the waterway.