Freo's View

IS WESTPORT SHORTLIST PREMATURE?

 

It is predictable that Garreth Parker in today’s column in the pro Liberal Sunday Times claims that the Westport Taskforce is flawed because it did not consider Roe8/9 as a potential solution, but that is for two reasons. There is no potential Roe 8/9 offered that had a solution for the North Fremantle traffic congestions, as the Barnett government experts could not find a way of connecting the last part of the highway extension into the port, and the second reason is that the McGowan government was elected with a landslide on the promise not to build Roe 8/9.

While I believe the Westport Taskforce process has been very good I am surprised they announced the preferred shortlist of options before environmental assessments have been made about the impact a potential new port in Kwinana might have on Cockburn Sound and what impact the mainly land-based transport options would have on local communities away from Leach Highway and North Fremantle.

What if the EPA and other agencies rule that marine life would be far too much threatened in Cockburn Sound and that a new port is not acceptable? Do we start from scratch again and repeat the whole expensive progress without a new Kwinana port as an option?

Public information and transparency are very important, but maybe it was just premature to announce a shortlist of options with a new Kwinana port as the first option before we understand the impact it might have on the very important Cockburn Sound.

Roel Loopers

LET WESTPORT TASKFORCE FINISH THEIR JOB!

 

It is disappointing that the in my opinion very thorough Westport Taskforce is now being criticised by the WA Liberal opposition and their PR agency the West Australian.

For two years the taskforce has dealt with all the stakeholders and conducted excellent community consultation but now they are being criticised for not having considered the Perth Freight Link.

Might it be the PFL was not considered because it fails to offer a solution on how to get freight faster and better to Fremantle Port because the PFL stopped at the Fremantle traffic bridge without any improvements to the North Fremantle bottleneck?

The Westport Taskforce preferred option is for the container port to be shifted to a new port at Kwinana and I believe that is most likely what the State Goivernment will decide on if all environmental approvals can be obtained that show that the impact on Cockburn Sound can be managed. It is unlikely the stevedores will support double handling of moving containers from Fremantle to Kwinana on barges as that would add costs and time.

For the City of Fremantle it is important to start planning what to do if we lose the great cranes and containers and most of the wharfies and port related office workers in town. Fremantle Port is so much part of Fremantle’s unique character and if we lose it we are in serious trouble as cruiseliners only come for a few months during the summer period.

While development at Victoria Quay would link the port better to the Fremantle CBD, a port without cranes and ships becomes just the river mouth of the Swan River.

The Westport Taskforce is still investigating and not finished yet and will now have to research if the Kwinana option is environmentally safe, so why not let them do their work without interfering and political finger pointing.

Roel Loopers

 

CONTINUING FREMANTLE PORT ONLY SECOND OPTION FOR WESTPORT TASKFORCE

Posted in city of fremantle, containers, freight, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized by freoview on August 15, 2019

 

The WESTPORT TASKFORCE has released its shortlist for future port operations and the preferred one is # 1- is the option 23 on the long list that would see a stand-alone land-backed port handling all container freight at Kwinana. The new port would extend from the Kwinana Bulk Jetty to the Alcoa jetty.

Option #2 is the long list Fremantle option 2 plus Kwinana option 24 for a shared port with a new one at Kwinana and Fremantle Port remaining as it is with some road, rail and operational enhancements.

Option # 3 would be as option # 2 but with a so called Blue Highway of shallow barges transporting containers from Fremantle to Kwinana.

From the Westport Taskforce:

While all of the assessment criteria were deemed to be of high importance, the assigned weightings are further explained below:

1. Capital expenditure and land acquisition costs, as a combined criterion, was weighted highest (18.2 per cent) as affordability was considered the most important criterion for the State. It is critical that Westport delivers an outcome that is fnancially responsible for the State.

2. Similarly, operations and maintenance costs received the second highest weighting of 16.4 per cent, as the fnal option must be commercially viable and affordable for the long-term.

3. Land use compatibility was weighted third at 14.5 per cent, as the impacts of expanded road and rail corridors, increased freight movement and/or a new port would be signifcant on nearby residences.

4. Marine environmental impacts were weighted highly at 12.7 per cent as a result of strong community support for this criterion.

5. Terrestrial environmental impacts were also weighted highly at 9.1 per cent, again in acknowledgment of the importance of this value to the community.

6. Net amenity impacts – such as impacts on recreation, visual amenity and beach use – were weighted equally at 9.1 per cent, based on strong community feedback around these issues.

7. The ability to expand the infrastructure (scalability) in the long-term if required and operational effciency was similarly weighted at 9.1 per cent.

8. Other determining factors were deemed to be heritage impacts (5.5 per cent), port and transport corridor access (3.7 per cent) and land availability and complexity of acquisitions (1.8 per cent)

Roel Loopers

FIVE WEEKS FOR WESTPORT TASKFORCE SHORT LIST

 

 

One can only agree with one of the public comments made that the Westport Taskforce is doing a fantastic job at community consultation and information and a very thorough job overall.

Another meeting was held this morning in the Fremantle Townhall and around 70 members of the community attended to listen to Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt and the Chair of Westport Nicole Lockwood.

The Mayor said that Fremantle Council had been pretty frustrated about the Perth Freight Link proposal and were very pleased that it had been abandoned.

Council believes that a working port is critical for Fremantle’s economic future and a survey showed that a massive70% of participants agreed with that. It was however important that a growing port would not have a greater negative impact on the community.

How can we be smart and have container freight on road not mainly during business hours, the Mayor asked. We need a dedicated freight rail line that does not conflict with the passenger trains.

Nicole Lockwood explained that the focus of the Westport Taskforce was on Fremantle, Bunbury and Kwinana and this has created many options which needed to be considered. It was about how to accommodate freight for the next fifty years and how we can get more out of the current network.

Social values and the environment are priorities, but we needed to be clear that the current infrastructure will not meet future needs. All options considered needed to be able to handle the long-term container trade projections, and must use the existing supply chain corridors.

The capacity of Fremantle Port is only at 37% Lockwood said, but the rail lines are very near capacity.

Westport is building an interactive digital spatial tool to create real-time modelling.

An small increase in growth of containers will have huge cumulative impacts over time.

Nicole Lockwood is very impressive. She is well across all the details and did not need notes to point out the pros and cons. She said the taskforce was about five weeks away from shortlisting the best options.

With so many container trucks arriving or leaving Fremantle Port empty I wonder if a system could be created where freight operators could swap trips so that a policy of no pick up without drop off and vice versa could be implemented. That would take a substantial number of trucks off our roads.

Very informative session that ended in a Q&A where most public speakers went over old ground complaining about train noise and vibration and traffic issues in North Fremantle. Short-term solutions for these issues are clearly not on the cards.

Roel Loopers

 

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FREMANTLE TO GET NEW TRAFFIC BRIDGE

Posted in city of fremantle, freight, fremantle ports, state government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 22, 2019

 

The WA State Government today announced they will be spending $ 230 million on replacing the ailing Fremantle Traffic Bridge. Work is planned to start within three years.

This comes timely after Westport Taskforce chair Nicole Lockwood recently stated that it looks like the best location for a new port will be at Kwinana, once Fremantle Ports reaches capacity, and that is still 15-20 years away according to experts.

There has been a strong reduction in freight on road and an increase of freight on rail since the latter was subsidised by the State Government, but there are still many days where the port is near empty.

Nicole Lockwood said that environmental concerns for a Kwinana Port could be dealt with by modern construction of a wharf on pylons, rather than a full concrete development that would do more damage to Cockburn Sound.

Roel Loopers

 

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NEWSLETTER ABOUT WA PORTS PROCESS

 

port

 

The WESTPORT TASKFORCE has published its first newsletter, the BEACON. The Beacon will provide information about the community and expert consultation process which is going on about Western Australian ports.

It is addressing Fremantle Port issues about freight, access issues, traffic problems, a new or overflow port in Cockburn Sound, moving some of the Fremantle operations to other ports, etc.

The Beacon is online here: https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/ehq-production-australia/80f0fdd7480e83887141a686019c37d72dd31183/documents/attachments/000/101/243/original/Westport_Beacon_1_Introducing_the_Beacon_Mar_19.pdf?1553062243

 

Roel Loopers

 

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FREMANTLE MAYOR WANTS FREO PORT TO STAY

 

The opinion piece by Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt in today’s West Australian about the pros and cons of an outer harbour, and the continuation of Fremantle as a working port is pragmatic and realistic, and without the political spin we are often getting about this important topic.

Brad Pettitt rightly argues that there is no immediate need for an outer harbour in Kwinana and that the environmental damage to Cockburn Sound might well be unacceptable. The Mayor also points out that shifting the port away from Fremantle would “erode Fremantle’s history and identity and lead to a big loss of economic activity…”

I agree with the Freo Mayor that the Perth Freight Link was a flawed plan that did not resolve how to get freight to the port, and that increased container freight by rail, with a new rail bridge across the Swan River, could see Fremantle continue as our much-liked working port.

It is a good idea to move the offloading of imported vehicles to Kwinana, or even Bunbury, and maybe also the scrap metal and live sheep transport.

A new rail bridge and rail line and better use of freight on roads, where we no longer see empty trucks running in and out of the port, and more freight by road during the evenings, are all part of the solution.

Fremantle Ports and the State Government should also become serious about part development of Victoria Quay and prioritise this by changing the buffer zones around the port, so that tourist and residential accommodation will be possible.

Moving the car imports away from Fremantle can be done very fast and does not need large infrastructure investment and the same applies to sheep trade.

I love the working port of Fremantle and would hate to see it become only a port for cruise ships. The container ships are part of Freo’s history and should continue to be so for many more years.

Roel Loopers

NO SPIN PLEASE IN WESTPORT PROCESS

Posted in city of fremantle, environment, fremantle ports, state government, Uncategorized by freoview on December 17, 2018

 

It is often difficult to see the facts through the haze of spin when important community, environmental and political issues are raised, as is the case with the strong lobbying for an alternative port at Kwinana by some community and political groups and by the Town of Kwinana council.

There were strong opinions for and against Roe 8, but it seems that now has been abandoned forever with the road reserve being canceled by the WA Labor government recently.

But when one reads Paul Murray’s column in the weekend West Australian a port at Kwinana would have the most negative and biggest environmental and social issues of Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury, with Fremantle Port having the lowest impact assessment.

It seems strange that there has been political interference by Transport Minister Rita Saffioti who, according to Murray’s article, edited the report released by the Westport Taskforce last week. If that is true that should worry us all, as the environmental assessment published by the MUA is no longer part of the report.

It is very clear that the traffic bottleneck in North Fremantle  will hamper any substantial growth of Fremantle Port, so what will the State Government do about that?

The Maritime Union of Australia is strongly opposed to a Kwinana Port, because it would see a loss of jobs, and they say that Fremantle Port could double its container intake and could operate for another 20 years, but at what cost to the traffic flow in effected suburbs?

The Westport Taskforce started with a big bang and the assurance that everyone would be consulted and that it would be a transparent process, so it is essential for the State Government not to interfere with the process and not “edit” any of the findings by the supposedly independent taskforce.

Roel Loopers

WESTPORT TASKFORCE FIRST PROGRESS REPORT IS OUT

Posted in city of fremantle, containers, freight, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized by freoview on December 13, 2018

 

 

The first progress report by the WESTPORT Taskforce is an interesting read. It came out yesterday, so check it out on-line as it is quite substantial.

I had a quick look at the WHAT HAVE WE FOUND SO FAR report and there are two points I consider very important for Fremantle. The first one is that the report states that Fremantle Port would be capable of handling double the number of containers it does now, as long as improved road and rail access to deliver and pick up container freight is part of the development.

The second one is maybe even more important as it means that residential and other development along Victoria Quay does not have to be halted until the port stops accepting containers.

The reports states: However, the Fremantle Port buffer is a guideline rather than a State statutory and use planning instrument. It does not preclude planning for additional residential development, even in the area closest to the port, and is dependent on local governments to regulate.

This is really important, because so far any attempt at wanting to build residential or hotel accommodation at Victoria Quay has been dismissed as not being possible because of the buffer zone around the port. It might just need a different, less rigid, approach by the Fremantle Ports board and management.

And a few more snippets from the report:

Changing community expectations about what is shipped from the port should be recognised as a constraint to development in the Fremantle study area. With the relocation of some trades, the port could expand its container operations or alternatively, use the space for non-port purposes.

Changing land use within the port buffer could open opportunities for a range of recreation, commercial and residential activities around Victoria Quay and in North Fremantle.

Key considerations of future work will be to: determine how long Fremantle’s Inner Harbour can efficiently and safely operate alongside the increasingly urban environment of the City of Fremantle; assess the impacts that trucks and other traffic has on suburbs west of the Kwinana Freeway as well as on access to the port; identify opportunities to facilitate and grow trade; assess if and when any trades should be moved to a different port location; and plan for the infrastructure required to keep freight moving efficiently and the economy growing for decades to come.

Any change to Fremantle Port operation will be long-term and won’t be happening for many years. It is quite clear from this progress report that there is no immediate need to move all port operation to Kwinana or Bunbury, but that a long transitional period might be required to move some operations.

The Westport Taskforce will continue to work, explore and consult with all affected communities and stakeholders, and nothing will happen overnight, or next year.

Roel Loopers

ROE 8 HIGHWAY ROAD RESERVE TO BE REZONED

 

PFL

 

The WA State Government will today introduce legislation in Parliament to scrap the  Perth Freight Link/Roe 8 highway extension road reserve, and rezone 86 hectares of the Beeliar Wetlands into parks and recreation in the Metropolitan Region Scheme.

It will be a challenge to get it through the Legislative Council though and might need cross benchers to achieve the goal.

While I welcome the protection of the Beeliar Wetlands I wonder if this move is not premature with the Westport Taskforce handing its first report to the Minister soon, which will state that there are no ‘fatal flaws’ for the expansion of Fremantle Port, Kwinana and Bunbury Port, so road connectivity will have to be part of the considerations to either expand Fremantle Port, or move part of the port operations to Kwinana and/or Bunbury.

Roel Loopers

 

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