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Economics against Bunbury’s port bid

WITH Fremantle’s inner harbour expected to reach capacity in about a decade, the State Government is focusing on the development of a second, $400 to $500 million overflow terminal at Kwinana.

Planning for the terminal facilities in the outer harbour, Cockburn Sound, has been under way for about 18 months, however community consultation started only recently.

The State Government and the Fremantle Port Authority are working on the development of the facilities, with costs met through a combination of public and private funds.

Other locations have been investigated but Kwinana is viewed as the most viable because of its sufficient supporting infrastructure and proximity to the target market.

The move is a blow to Bunbury’s hopes of becoming WA’s second major container terminal.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said a lot of effort had been put into examining the Bunbury option, but studies had shown it was not economically viable.

However, it is understood Bunbury is still interested in containerisation, with at least two international companies understood to be in discussions with the Bunbury Port Authority board.

The Kwinana terminal will be evaluated on a triple-bottom-line basis, expected to be completed in 2005, followed by a statutory assessment process that may take 30 months.

It’s planned to build the new container facilities in stages.

Three of the four design concepts are offshore designs, linked to the shore by a bridge.  The fourth option is a partial land-backed, partial offshore facility.

About 70 stakeholders recently attended a community workshop about the facility. 

While industry welcomes the Kwinana location, local residents are angry, saying that Cockburn Sound is already severely degraded and another port will only make things worse.

Fremantle Ports chief executive officer Kerry Sanderson said the consultation would be detailed and transparent to ensure issues were identified and addressed.

“Imports and exports are crucial to maintaining Western Australia’s lifestyle and it is essential that we cater for ongoing trade growth,” she said. “About 81 per cent of the State’s container trade has its origin or destination in the metropolitan area.”

The shipping industry says Kwinana’s proximity to the manufacturing market and surrounding infrastructure makes it the only option.

“There is no where else for it to go,” Shipping Australia representative Graeme Wilson said.

“The important thing is to have the approvals in place soon so if the Fremantle port reaches capacity before then (2015), then it is ready to go.”

Kwinana Progress Association (KPA) president Steve Hesse criticised the community consultation process, saying it was pointless because the decision had already been made.

He said the Bunbury and Geraldton options had not been fully investigated and has called for full-cost, social and environmental studies into both regional options versus the Kwinana option.

“Bunbury actually wants the port,” Mr Hesse said.

“There is evidence that it would cause less environmental damage down there.”

 

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