The long-running battle to develop a new port at Kwinana has taken a new twist, with private developer James Point Pty Ltd rejecting a compromise proposal put forward by the state government and calling on the Fremantle Port Authority to rethink its plans
The long-running battle to develop a new port at Kwinana has taken a new twist, with private developer James Point Pty Ltd rejecting a compromise proposal put forward by the state government and calling on the Fremantle Port Authority to rethink its plans for an island port.
James Point chairman Hans Moonen said a proposal by Planning and Infra-structure Minister Alannah MacTiernan would have required the private company to scrap most of its plans so that Fremantle Ports could proceed with its competing development.
He said James Point’s shareholders, including BGC boss Len Buckeridge and international engineering company Worley-Parsons, were united in their desire to press ahead with their project, which was underpinned by an operating agreement signed with the state government of Richard Court in December 2000.
“We’re just trying to pursue the commercial opportunity that this contract gives us,” Mr Moonen told WA Business News.
A new port at Kwinana will be needed over the next decade, when the existing harbour at Fremantle is expected to reach its capacity.
James Point has been trying for nearly six years to obtain environmental and planning approval for its project. In the meantime, Fremantle Ports has developed plans for its own competing port.
Mr Moonen has called for the state to consider the possible integration of the proposed developments at Kwinana.
This could include James Point extending its cargo wharf to incorporate a finger jetty that Fremantle Ports is planning to replace.
Mr Moonen said James Point has also prepared concept plans that would allow it to meet the growing port requirements of Rio Tinto’s HIsmelt project.
In addition, he has flagged the possible relocation of the port authority’s island port so that it would be linked to James Point’s container terminal.
Mr Moonen said the minister approached James Point earlier this year with a proposal that would allow its stage one cargo wharf to be built, subject to two critical conditions: shifting the cargo wharf to the north; and surrendering plans for further development, including its proposed stage two container terminal.
“From James Point’s point of view, it is difficult to imagine how such a proposal could be of interest, given that our purpose and vision is to create an entire new port in a number of stages,” Mr Moonen said.
The minister’s proposal would have made it easier for Fremantle Ports to proceed with its island port in Cockburn Sound.
In particular, it would facilitate road access to the causeway that would link the island port to the mainland.
Fremantle Ports has floated an alternative ‘northern’ access route, but that could create environmental concerns.
Mr Moonen expressed frustration at the lack of government support for the James Point proposal, which would be privately funded with the exception of some associated road and rail improvements.
He believes the James Point development “has a construction cost advantage over the FPA plans that will run to some hundreds of millions of dollars in today’s money terms”.
“The James Point development better utilises the natural bathymetry of the site to minimise construction costs and minimise adverse environmental and social impacts,” he said.
The James Point proposal is to create a 700-metre land-backed wharf and to reclaim about 71 hectares of land. No dredging would be required for navigation channels or basins to support the facility.
The development is located wholly within a restricted area where unauthorised vessels and beach access are currently not permitted. Therefore Mr Moonen said, there would be no loss of recreational use.
Ms MacTiernan did not return calls from WA Business News.