FREMANTLE harbour provides a fascinating insight into infrastructure planning. Like many harbours, its location is an accident of geography and history. If Perth were being planned from scratch, it would not make sense to put one of the state’s main commercial harbours in the middle of a densely populated residential, commercial and tourism district – especially when most of the freight has to be transported on noisy trucks through suburban Perth to get from the harbour to the city’s industrial hub at Kewdale. The odour from trucks carrying live sheep and cattle is an added problem. Add in the hazardous materials imported and exported through Fremantle, and you have quite a collection of issues to deal with. The latter issue has been thrown into sharp relief by Magellan Metals’ plan to use Fremantle for lead exports, following the disastrous lead poisoning at Esperance last year. The Environmental Protection Authority has sensibly recommended that Magellan should be allowed to proceed with its plan, subject to meeting onerous conditions. Fremantle Mayor Peter Tagliaferri and others in the community have voiced their opposition to this plan. Yet this is the same Mr Tagliaferri who dismissed Liberal Party plans to move the port operations to the planned ‘outer harbour’ at Cockburn Sound. Mr Tagliaferri, like Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan, believe the harbour is a crucial part of Fremantle’s fabric and insist it should remain a working port. If that is the case, the residents of Fremantle and surrounding suburbs will have to live with lead, livestock and heavy container traffic passing along their streets.