Liberals' radical Freo plan

19/12/2007 - 22:00

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The state Liberal Party has put forward a radical plan to phase out commercial shipping activity at Fremantle harbour in favour of a new port at Kwinana adjacent to the private port planned by private company James Point Pty Ltd.

The state Liberal Party has put forward a radical plan to phase out commercial shipping activity at Fremantle harbour in favour of a new port at Kwinana adjacent to the private port planned by private company James Point Pty Ltd.

The Liberals’ plan would open up North Quay for residential, tourist and commercial developments, with the proceeds from property sales used to help fund construction of the new port.

Opposition transport and infrastructure spokesman, Simon O’Brien, has suggested that the unimproved and unremediated value of the land at North Quay would be somewhere between $3 billion and $5 billion.

The state government is already pursuing plans to build an outer harbour at Kwinana to handle expected growth in shipping volumes, but has insisted that the inner harbour would continue as a working port.

Fremantle Ports has released two development concepts for public discussion; one is an island wharf connected to the mainland by a bridge, the other is a partially land-backed wharf with an island component.

The estimated cost of developing the first stage of either plan would be $1.3 billion.

James Point, whose major shareholder is building magnate Len Buckeridge, has been unable to obtain approval for its long-standing port plans until the government decides on its preferred option.

James Point chairman Hans Moonen has estimated that its general cargo and container wharves would only cost about $300 million.

The relatively low cost of the James Point proposal arises because the company has secured a long-term lease over the prime site for a land-backed wharf.

Mr O’Brien said he anticipated the government’s new land-backed wharf would be “harmonised and contiguous” with the proposed James Point development, but noted that detailed planning would need to be completed first.

The Liberals’ plan involves the staged transfer of livestock transport, bulk cargo, large car carriers and large container ships to the new port by 2017.

“While Fremantle should always have an operating port, now is the time to position ourselves for the future and to shift heavy port operations to a more appropriate location,” Mr O’Brien said.

His definition of an operating port covers vessels like cruise ships, super yachts, tall ships and possibly a marina, rather than commercial freight vessels.

Mr O’Brien believes the government should act now while it has an opportunity to plan appropriate transport linkages to the new port.

The Liberals’ plan would relieve Stirling Bridge and Leach Highway from their current heavy loads.

The government believes the inner harbour would be able to cope with further increases in freight volumes, in part by putting more freight onto rail.

However, the rail link, which goes through the west end of Fremantle, past apartments and tourist facilities, is also contentious.

“There is no doubt that the heavy port operations currently in Fremantle, and massive increases proposed by Labor, do not fit with the area’s increasing importance as a tourism destination and create significant problems for surrounding residential areas,” Mr O’Brien said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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