12/06/2007 - 22:00

$190m port project to double Rous Head

12/06/2007 - 22:00


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The Fremantle port authority is planning to more than double the size of its Rous Head industrial estate, as part of a $194 million port deepening project.

$190m port project to double Rous Head

The Fremantle port authority is planning to more than double the size of its Rous Head industrial estate, as part of a $194 million port deepening project.

Fremantle Ports intends to deepen the port so that it can accommodate the increasingly large container vessels visiting the harbour.

The spoil from its proposed dredging program will be used to create an extra 30 hectares of industrial land at Rous Head, in North Fremantle.

The existing 25ha Rous Head industrial area, which was created in 1988 during the port authority’s last big dredging program, is fully occupied.

The industrial area will continue be restricted to port-related commercial activities.

Savills divisional director industrial, Max Jones, said the new land at Rous Head would be highly sought after, given the increasing demand for industrial land close to major road, rail and port infrastructure.

“Much of the industrial land close to the city is being converted into commercial or residential development, so all new parcels that are well located are being bought or leased almost as soon as they hit the market,” he said.

Mr Jones said considering Rous Head was already built out, some existing port tenants would likely secure the land to expand their premises.

Fremantle Ports chief executive Kerry Sanderson outlined the port authority’s expansion plans when she spoke at a Lloyd’s List DCN transport conference in Perth last week.

Ms Sanderson said that, by 2020, it was anticipated that 63 per cent of vessels visiting Fremantle would have a draft requirement above the current limit of 12.5 metres.

“They will require depths that we can’t provide at the current time,” she said.

The port authority’s intention is to deepen the harbour to cater for ships at 13.5 metres draft and possibly 14 metres (using dynamic underkeel clearance). This would require deepening from 13 metres to 15 metres.

Ms Sanderson said this was likely to be sufficient for the next 10 years.

The port authority is currently undertaking detailed geotechnical, environmental and engineering studies and finalising its business case for the port deepening, which it hopes to complete by mid 2009.

Ms Sanderson said the port was experiencing rapid growth in both the volume of containers being shipped and the number of motor vehicles being imported.

With the existing inner harbour expected to reach capacity over the next decade, Fremantle Ports is pursuing plans to build a giant island wharf in Cockburn Sound.

Stage 1 of the three-stage island wharf, which includes construction of a causeway to the mainland, will cost $1.3 billion and is currently awaiting cabinet approval.

Ms Sanderson said she was aiming to complete stage 1 by 2015, but if recent growth continued this would need to be brought forward.

The port authority has acknowledged that the timing of its island wharf may change if private company James Point Pty Ltd, whose major shareholder is Len Buckeridge’s BGC Group, proceeds with a competing port proposal at Cockburn Sound.

James Point has been trying for the past six years to obtain environmental and planning approval so that it can proceed with its project, pursuant to a contract it signed with the Court government in 2000.

James Point chairman Hans Moonen believes his company’s project would be a lot less expensive, and cause much less environmental damage, because the site backs onto the coast.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan believes the James Point deal was one of several questionable deals between BGC and the Court government.

She told parliament earlier this year the terms of the James Point agreement should be a scandal.

“This should be the subject of a royal commission,” she said.


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