Freo's View

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

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

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FREMANTLE PORT FREIGHT ON RAIL RECORD

 

The WA State Government has announced that in April this year a record of 23.7 per cent of container freight to Fremantle Port was by rail and more than 20 per cent freight on rail in 2018-19. This equates to taking around 110.000 one-way truck movements off our roads

The substantial 30 per cent increase of freight by rail comes after the McGowan government raised the subsidy when it came into power.

Western Australia has the highest proportion of containers on rail in Australia, so that is a pretty good effort.

Experts believe that 30 per cent container freight on rail is achievable for Fremantle Port operations, but critics believe the noise the additional and longer container trains create in the west of Fremantle is a severe nuisance to local residents, who also complain about strong vibrations.

It is great though to get so many trucks off our roads, but a good balance needs to be achieved to try to keep everyone happy.

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 PORT AT CAPACITY?

Posted in city of fremantle, containers, freight, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized by freoview on March 25, 2019

 

Port

 

It is no secret that I love Freo’s working port, so I drive onto the South Mole at least once a day. I have noticed that, like this Monday morning, the port has been empty of container ships a few times during the last three months, so what is all the talk about that Fremantle Port is reaching its capacity?

There is a lot of discussion going on about the future of our port, and I agree that better solutions meed to be found to get freight in and out of the port, so a new bridge would be a start and more freight on rail, and no more empty trucks from and to the port.

Somewhere in it all there needs to be some relief for North Fremantle residents, so hopefully the Westport Taskforce will come up with solid recommendations to the State Government.

Roel Loopers

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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

NEW PUBLIC DEBATE ON ROE 8

 

 

The announcement by WA Premier Mark McGowan about the Fremantle High Street upgrade has resurrected the debate about the canceled Perth Freight Link and Roe 8 highway.

There have been quite a few letters in the West Australian in support of Roe 8 and the PFL and there was an opinion piece by Liza Harvey MLA, who was the deputy premier of the previous government under Colin Barnett.

It is very intriguing to note that Liza Harvey now suddenly writes there would be other options for the McGowan government to consider than going through the Beeliar wetlands. If that is the case, why did the former Liberal/National state government not consider those options but instead, and in spite, decided to start the demolition of the wetlands, although all the indications were that they would be kicked out of government. Liza Harvey’s hypocrisy is unbelievable.

Fact is also that the Perth Freight Link was not exclusively for freight and trucks, as some letter writers claim and that it actually did not go to Fremantle Port but finished at Stirling Highway. A part solution really was no solution. Ask North Freo residents!

The new plans are not ideal either as they don’t address pedestrian crossing adequately and while I do like roundabouts I don’t like that so many Perth motorists don’t seem to know how to use them, so that could become a problem.

Freight trucks have overturned in the past at the intersection of High Street and Stirling Highway because of taking the corner at excessive speed, a roundabout won’t fix that problem either.

A new outer harbour is still a very long way away and freight to the port will no doubt increase, so when is the state government going to address more freight by rail?

Roel Loopers

HIGHER SUBSIDY FOR FREO PORT FREIGHT BY RAIL

Posted in city of fremantle, freight, fremantle ports, Uncategorized by freoview on December 28, 2017

 

containers 2

 

In an effort to get more freight on rail and fewer trucks on the road Transport Minister Rita Saffioto has announced that the WA state government will increase the rail subsidy for freight operators to Fremantle Port, to rise from $ 30 to $ 50 per twenty-foot container.

This is the result of the cancellation of the Perth Freight Link by the new Labor government.

The minister said the subsidy would be paid for all loaded containers that move between North Quay Rail Terminal, Forresfield and Kwinana, as well as for containers filled with hay that are received by rail at NQRT for export.

“The rail service plays a significant role in achieving greater efficiency in the container supply chain as well as improving community amenity and environmental benefits along metropolitan roads that link to Fremantle Port,” Saffioti said.

The state government has also formed the Westport taskforce that will investigate a new outer harbour at Kwinana and related issues..

Roel Loopers

A NEW PORT OR A PIPE DREAM?

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, Uncategorized by freoview on November 20, 2017

 

The outer harbour forum at Fremantle Victoria Hall was an interesting event and the hall was packed full, so there is clearly strong community interest in finding solutions for a better way on how WA deals with freight and port related transport and issues.

I was impressed with the presentation of Nicole Lockwood, the independent chair of the newly created WESTPORT.

She said the Kwinana outer harbour and issues related with it would be one of the longest planning exercises in WA, as the outcome would be looking after the State’s freight for the next 50-100 years.

The reference group was very broad and inclusive and relied on participation, input and ideas from all levels of the industries, government departments and community.

It is about planning a modern port, land and transport plans, assessing commercial aspects, identifying industrial opportunities, and maximising compatibility.

There is huge land access at Kwinana and Bunbury that can be utilised.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was good to have a rational conversation on how to transition part of the port activity to Kwinana as there is an opportunity to rethink the south side of the harbour.

There needs to be a better port to city connection and either upgrade the passenger terminal or build a new one further west with better access to the city.

Pettitt said Fremantle Council wanted to keep Fremantle as a working port as long as possible.

Infrastructure advisor Cameron Edwards said WA needed to offer a competitive international product and that a new outer harbour would create significant value to pay off the State’s debt.

Fremantle Port was a ‘stranded asset’ and the rail link under-utilised. Kwinana would be able to handle much longer trains than Fremantle, where the maximum length is only 690 metres.

The creation of a large industrial park and special economic trading zone at Kwinana would stimulate the WA economy. Kwinana is where the money is and that has significant advantage, Edwards said.

Fremantle deserves world-class facilities and there are great examples around the world how well we can rejuvenate old ports.

A new port would create 18,000 new jobs while the status quo would not create any new jobs.

Professor Phil Jennings spoke at length about serious environmental problems in Cockburn Sound in the past and that there are still areas where seagrass is dying and the pollution is bad, but with proper conditions and management in place the outer harbour could be acceptable.

Professor Peter Newman said we should create Lithium Valley at Kwinana as we have already eight lithium mines in WA and it is a growth industry. We should not just be exporting our lithium though but build the batteries here in WA.

Nicole Lockwood said it was going to be a huge jigsaw puzzle and a dynamic exercise to understand the constraints and opportunities of a new outer harbour.

I walked away wondering how realistic all this is, as we just had Fremantle Port wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars planning for the sale of the port, now the new Labor government is changing that all around with absolutely no guarantee that a future Liberal government will not scrap the plans again.

The reality will be that the construction of an outer harbour will not start in the next ten years because Fremantle Port is not anywhere near capacity and WA is broke. The ‘overflow port’ won’t really be needed for another 15-20 years. 

Building lithium batteries in WA is highly unrealistic because labour costs here are far too high to be internationally competitive.

And keeping a working port at North Quay while developing Victoria Quay is unfortunately also unrealistic because of the buffer zones at the port and safety and security issues. That means there can’t be residential or hotel development, so all that could be done is commercial activity of retail and offices.

While strategic long-term planning for our state is important it is essential to be extremely realistic about what can be achieved and what will remain just another pipedream.

 

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE’S WORKING PORT

Posted in containers, freight, fremantle, fremantle ports, western australia by freoview on August 23, 2016

crane 1 crane 2

 

I love Freo’s working port, so had a look around Rous Head today and took these two interesting photos.

A report in today’s Fremantle Gazette about the increase of container freight to the port by rail was revealing as the company in charge of the rail terminal stated it handles on average 12-14 trains per week. That is not even 2 per day, so why is rail not used more often I wonder?

Roel Loopers

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