Renewed pressure on Fremantle port

ALCOA is not the only WA operation experiencing community pressure. The Fremantle Port Authority also has been feeling increasing heat during the past few years.

Although community complaints about the port’s operations have slackened over the past two years, some transport and industry sources believe community disquiet could flare up again when the Fremantle Coldstores appartment development opens.

While there was talk of closing the port, Planning and Infra-structure Minister Alannah MacTiernan has indicated she supports keeping Fremantle as an operating port.

Fremantle Ports, the organisation charged with running the transport facility, is one of the first to admit it is under community pressure.

Its chief executive officer Kerry Sanderson said ports worldwide were under increasing pressure, particularly with increased development close to port operations.

“The major problem is the cumulative effect such pressure can have and the potential for it to squeeze and constrain a port’s operations,” Ms Sanderson said.

“We know from our research that there is strong community support for Fremantle Port. However, port activity inevitably has some impacts for those living nearby.”

The live sheep trade has one of the port’s most noticeable effects on Fremantle residents.

There have been suggestions that the live sheep trade perhaps be moved to BHP’s port near Naval Base.

Sea Freight Council chief Michael O’Callaghan said there were considerable holding pens being built around Baldivis.

“I would think there would be an almost irresistible urge for the livestock trade to be shifted to another, more remote, location,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

He believes the marine fabrication facility planned for Cockburn Sound could become another community hotspot.

“People down there are starting to take more notice of what is happening,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“But communities can also be quick to defend things such as cargoes when their local port looks like losing them.

“When Portman Mining first investigated shipping its Koolyanobbing iron ore through Esperance’s port, many local residents spoke out against it because they thought the town’s beaches would be sullied by red iron ore dust.

“When Portman looked at shipping the ore from Fremantle’s outer harbour, a lot of noise came from Esperance about what the loss would mean to them.”

Ms Sanderson said every ship to visit Fremantle represented 3.3 full-time equivalent jobs.

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