Freo's View

ARRIVAL AT FREMANTLE PORT

Posted in city of fremantle, cruiseship, fremantle ports, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on October 20, 2019

 

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Getting up at 4.30am for the arrival of the Sea Princess meant I had time on my hands, even after coffee and browsing through the Sunday Times at Chalkys cafe, so I went to the Passenger Terminal of Fremantle Port and took some snaps of the few passengers who were out and about early.

Roel Loopers

BEAUTIFUL MORNING AT FREMANTLE PORT

 

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As everyone who reads Freo’s View should know by now I absolutely love the working Fremantle Port, so when I got there this morning for my Saturday morning coffee with my mate Henty at the Express Cafe at B Shed I just had to take photos of the departing container ship just before 7am.

There were heaps of young people on their way to Rottnest Island which always makes me feel I am on holiday.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE PORT POLITICAL FOOTBALL

 

The news that the Maritime Union of Australia-MUA have pulled out of the Westport Taskforce process, that was established to identify if, where and when a new container port is needed in WA, is as disappointing as it was predictable.

Unfortunately the process has been kidnapped by political and self interest and that makes it near impossible for Westport Taskforce chair Nicole Lockwoood and her team to remain independent.

The very first meeting I went to at the Fremantle Townhall had a commercial expert on the panel who predicted tens of thousands of job if a new port was built at Kwinana. It turned out he is the husband of the Mayor of the Town of Kwinana, so hardly an independent expert.

WA Premier Mark McGowan no doubt can also clearly see the economic benefits for his electorate of Rockingham if an international port is built just down the road from it, and the MUA is really only interested in the short-term retaining of jobs for the wharfies and worried about a largely automated new port at Kwinana, or elsewhere.

While the Labor government has promised to not privatise Fremantle Port it has not made similar promises for a new Kwinana port, and neither have the Liberal opposition.

The environmental impact on Cockburn Sound has not been investigated thoroughly and it is wrong to say that dredging would only happen at the start of the process because future dredging in the sound and Gage Roads will be needed as the size of container vessels grow.

The political argument that the Roe 8 option was excluded and therefor the process is flawed is wrong. The Labor party made the election promise not to build Roe 8, so that was clear from the start. It is also clear that the former Liberal government totally messed up the Perth Freight Link project because it could not find a solution to extend the new freight link all the way to the port, and it stopped at the Swan river.

Traffic congestion in North Fremantle and along Leach Highway are mainly caused by private cars as freight trucks to and from the port account for only 10% of the traffic volume.  The same number of trucks come to Fremantle Port as it did ten years ago, so while container import has increased it has been better handled and not resulted in more truck movements.

The Westport Takforce have stated that port related freight at Kwinana would mainly be road based, so traffic issues at Kwinana and surrounding areas need to be investigated first because it would be unfair to simply shift the traffic problems further south and away from the Fremantle area.

Moving the port from Fremantle to Kwinana would have an enormous impact on the Fremantle economy and while development along the river mouth would no doubt make partly up for that the loss of the working port would be immense and negative for our city.

While I believe the Westport Taskforce process is very thorough it is probably not helpful that they prematurely release findings and everyone jumps on the bandwagon to criticise everything they are doing. Transparency is great but appears to have become a hindrance in allowing the process to continue without political grandstanding.

First and foremost we need to see a very detailed environmental impact report for Cockburn Sound and the impact a new port at Kwinana would have on the local communities there and the traffic issues and solutions.

We should then also get to see a report on how/if Fremantle Port operations can continue and grow for 20-30 years without and increasing negative impact for North Fremantle, Melville and people living along the rail corridor.

A new freight bridge has been promised but what actually will it do to help solve all the issues we are all aware about, and would a tunnel be a better and realistic option?

There are still so many questions and not enough solutions, and it is not helpful that politicians, the MUA, the Town of Kwinana and other self interest groups are now kicking the political football around, that is going to kick a lot of goals but will probably have no winners.

My suggestion to everyone of them is to stay out of the process and allow Nicole Lockwood and her team to do what they get paid for. Once we see the final recommendations we can scrutinise the outcome and the process and accept or criticise it. No matter what the recommendations are, not everyone will be happy with it, but doing nothing is not an option as the future of Fremantle Port is not infinite.

Roel Loopers

IS VICTORIA QUAY DEVELOPMENT GOOD FOR FREMANTLE?

 

Fremantle Council wants the working port to continue for as long as possible but it also wants development all along Victoria Quay, and those South Quay plans are now investigated by the WA government, but will development on Victoria Quay benefit Fremantle or compete with inner city development?

A working port means that the buffer zones around the port do not allow for residential development or a hotel, so all we would be getting at VQ is commercial development of office, retail and hospitality space, as the three suggestions by CODA showed, when this went through a lengthy community consultation process some years ago.

Will it really be good for Fremantle to have competing development at the port when it will be a challenge to fill the new commercial accommodation that will come on line soon in the CBD, and will the City of Fremantle receive council rates from any development within the Fremantle Ports boundaries, or will we have many more buildings that don’t contribute to the City’s coffers?

Any new development at VQ will no doubt have a substantial hospitality component where people can enjoy harbour views and sunsets while dining out or having a drink, and that will mean that the City’s safety rangers will have more work, or would the Port have their own security to police that?

I believe that any development at Victoria Quay should come under the jurisdiction of the City of Fremantle and building owners should pay council rates, as our city needs the extra income much more than Fremantle Ports do.

Roel Loopers

MUA WANTS FREMANTLE PORT TO STAY

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, maritime, state government, Uncategorized, unions by freoview on September 18, 2019

 

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The Maritime Union of Australia-MUA protested early this morning outside the office of Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk in Fremantle’s Market Street.

The MUA is not at al happy that the state government has been investigating through the Westport Taskforce what the future of Fremantle Port will be, with the preferred option a move to a new port at Kwinana.

The loud protest heard MUA branch secretary Chris Cain warn Simone McGurk that she will be gone at the next election.

The MUA is clearly worried about wharfies losing jobs at an automated new port, but the reality is that even if the state government decides to build a very expensive new port in Cockburn Sound it will take at least 15 years for it to be realised and replace our Freo port.

Roel Loopers

 

FREO HIGH STREET UPGRADE UPDATE

Posted in city of fremantle, freight, fremantle ports, traffic, Uncategorized by freoview on September 16, 2019

 

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The Fremantle High Street Upgrade project is one step closer to realisation with all the buildings now demolished and removed.

The Mainroads project hopes to make freigh transport to and from Fremantle Port, faster, safer and smoother, with a new large roundabout planned at the Stirling Highway intersection where many trucks have overturned in the past.

Roel Loopers

THERE ARE NO SIMPLE PORT SOLUTIONS

 

 

About one hundred people turned up at the North Fremantle community hall on Tuesday evening to ask questions about the future of Fremantle Port, which were answered by Nicole Lockwood, the chair of the Westport Taskforce, Ports CEO Chris Leatt-Hayter, Curtin university professor Peter Newman and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

In the audience were also members from the Fremantle Inner City Residents Association and Fremantle Society president John Dowson, as well as Fremantle Councillors Jones, Archibald and Sullivan.

Nicole Lockwood told us that the so-called Blue Highway of putting containers on barges to ship them to Kwinana was very common all around the world. It is option 3 on the  shortlist.

It does not matter if the government selected the Roe 8 or Leach Highway options because both are flawed as the problem of the last mile to cross the river and getting freight into port was the problematic one that has not been resolved.

But it will take at least ten years to do anything new at all, and in the meantime we should be getting a new traffic bridge with a dedicated freight rail line on it.

Chris Leatt-Hayter said that Fremantle Ports is supportive of the Westport Taskforce and that it is a rigorous, fair and sound process. Fremantle Port could handle ships of up to 350 metres long and that were the biggest ones coming to Australia currently.

Leatt-Hayter said that the same number of trucks came to the port now as they did ten years ago, because many more containers were transported by rail and fewer trucks came or left empty.

The Port do not take the community for granted and try to minimise the impact of their operations. It has 78% support from the community to continue the Freo working port!

Mayor Brad Pettitt said that the working port is very much part of Fremantle’s identity and who we are and that it is good for our economy and provides thousands of port related jobs, but what happens on land needs to be managed as it impacts on the community. The shift onto rail is the key. “We want to keep the working port as long as we can.”

Professor Peter Newman wants the ASAP solution of having a new port in Kwinana as soon as possible because he believes litheum exports will substantially increase the number of containers.”We need a new technology port.”

The Q&A did not have many specific North Fremantle questions but Leatt-Hayter said that freight on rail had issues because it goes right past the Roundhouse and close to residential apartments.

Nicole Lockwood said a tunnel is far more problematic in the Perth region and even more so at the river mouth and that putting trains through a tunnel would mean they end up somewhere near Rottnest because of the gradient. Cost efficiency was also a major factor.

Aboriginal woman Corina Abrahams said that there was not enough concern for the cultural heritage and that we should not ruin Cockburn Sound. Common sense needs to prevail.

One community speaker said the solution was a dedicated lane for autonomous trucks that could run 24/7 and would create a lot less noise than the diesel trucks.

Nicole Lockwood said the state government needed to do two things at once; planning for the long term and improving for the short term. Significant investment would be needed in the next ten years with at least six major projects to improve the Fremantle Port operations, including widening Curtin Avenue. “Perth just does not have enough river crossings.”

North Freo resident Anne Forma said there had been a lot of talk and a lot of plans but nothing had happened and that the 2010 plans could have been implemented by now. “Investment in Fremantle Port is not a long term solution.”

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE PORT BUSINESS AS USUAL

Posted in city of fremantle, containers, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized by freoview on August 29, 2019

 

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The old Patrick’s crane on North Quay in Fremantle Port is being dismantled to make way for a larger crane. A new ZPMC-brand crane will arrive early next year and that will be an impressive sight to see it floating into the harbour.

Fremantle is the most efficient of the five major container ports in Australia and it is not going anywhere for a long time. Think about putting a child into primary school and watch the transition to high school, and then watch it to decide if university is for them. That is the minimum time Fremantle Port will remain a working port, so no need to panic for those who love the port and believe it is significant to Freo’s unique character, as I do.

It is most likely that I will be rotting in hell well before Fremantle stops being our major working port in Western Australia.

Roel Loopers

 

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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

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CONNECTING FREO’S FUTURE TO THE PAST

 

I enjoy talking with architects, city planners and developers about Fremantle’s future and have found it educational and inspiring to have discussions with City of Fremantle heritage coordinator architect Alan Kelsall about how we should try to grow Fremantle.

Alan and I agree that in general the Fremantle community recognises that the need for regeneration of the city is necessary and that it is desirable if done well: if it is managed, planned and implemented in ways that reinforce and sustain the sense of Fremantle’s distinctiveness embodied in it, such as the rich mix of built heritage and unique urban character.

However, without broad, long-term public support and commitment to the planning vision for Fremantle it is unlikely to be successful. As a community we therefore need to have a clear understanding of what we mean when we try to articulate it. The ultimate outcome will set the standard for good design within Freo’s heritage areas and getting it right is essential to securing the future of our heritage buildings.

Let’s consider Fremantle’s history and what it means in the context of future growth of our city. Fremantle was developed as a port town and a centre of trade, and for most of its history it was prosperous and acknowledged as the second city in the metro area. That underscores the city’s distinct character and its rich heritage.

The prosperity of Fremantle encouraged the construction of its present heritage buildings. These developments were not simply utilitarian or profit based, but showed a desire to display a mix of business confidence and civic pride. That is probably why these buildings have a quality that people continue to find attractive, and why most people in our community believe it is worth conserving them, not only as memorial of the past but also as exemplars of successful, high quality architecture, urban design and city planning.

Fremantle had buildings with a strong association with the working port, but also buildings that provided a diverse mix of uses. These included schools, shops, places to work and socialise, etc. which people living in its densely populated catchment could reach on foot or by public transport. It is what we now consider to be an example of sustainable urban design.

Fremantle Port played a primary role in Freo’s success and its distinct character due to the facts that processing, storage and distribution of export and import commodities took place in buildings located near the harbour. It created the mutual interdependence between the port and the city that generated and sustained our port city character.

However this pattern of beneficial evolution changed in 1969 with the introduction of containerisation, which caused profound changes in Fremantle, not only because it changed the way in which ships were loaded and unloaded but also because storage and distribution of export and import commodities no longer took place near the harbour. These changes completely severed the earlier mutual supporting interdependencies between the harbour, city centre and surrounding residential suburbs. The changes impacted not only on shipping and its associated industries but also affected the commercial, retail, social and residential vitality of the city. In addition it caused deterioration of the quality of public areas and less appreciation of the worth of its heritage buildings.

It is obviously impossible, and probably not even desirable, to try to replicate the primary role played by the port in the past, but it is possible, through new higher density mixed-use development located between Victoria Quay and Kings Square, within reach of the railway station, to reproduce the type of mutually supporting interdependencies that used to exist between the port and the city centre. For this to be successful though it demands that development is guided by integrated strategic planning that is inspired, but not limited, by the past to create the conditions of genuine everyday activities, that should come as a result of more people living and working and enjoying social leisure time in all its diversity within the same area.

It is important to recognise that the role residential development on appropriate sites in the CBD can play is crucial to generating the vitality and resilience needed to cope with future problems and to adjust to changing circumstances. A fundamental benefit of regenerating and revitalising the area in this way is that it would promote positive change and would contribute to re-establishing Fremantle’s city centre as the heart of the community, which has already started with the Kings Square redevelopment project.

If Fremantle’s heritage is not managed carefully because it is considered to be too hard it will be at risk of being lost and with this its potential to enrich the city in ways that give a sense of distinctiveness, meaning and quality to the places in which people live and work, as well as the sense of destination that attracts people to Freo and makes them want to come and spend time in our city and thus contribute to secure its future.

It is a huge challenge to get it right, but with respectful dialogue between developers, city planners and the community we can all positively contribute to Fremantle’s progress and future.

Roel Loopers

A huge thank you to Alan Kelsall for his collaboration with constructing this article!

 

 

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