The resources sector has welcomed the state government's plan to underground a series of power lines between Perth and Newman, a move it says will reduce significant costs and delays in moving large mining equipment around the state.
Transport Minister Troy Buswell announced today a range of measures to reduce red tape for industry; creating a dedicated permit agency at Main Roads alongside the plan to move eight lines that cross the Great Northern Highway underground.
Mr Buswell said industry had complained to government for several years over the eight lines, which have a clearance of less than 6.5 metres.
“Each time the lines are lifted, the industry must pay Western Power or Horizon Power and with the increase in movements of oversize loads, this cost – which is passed onto consumers – is also increasing,” he said in a statement.
“Given there were 849 oversize permits issued for loads travelling this route in 2011, the undergrounding of these lines will mean up to 90 per cent of these loads will no longer require Western Power supervision.”
The Minister said operators could expect to save up to $15,000 per trip once the works are completed.
Mr Buswell said the creation of a single agency at Main Roads for heavy vehicle permits would end the need for operators to deal with three or four separate departments to obtain permission to move equipment.
“The creation of the one stop shop for permits will mean that a transport operator will only have to make one application to Main Roads in order to obtain an Oversize Load Permit, book a Police escort and get a referral to Western Power for power line clearance,” he said.
Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said industry had welcomed the move, which removes long-standing recurring costs.
He said the government's plan was an “important first step” that showed the state government was committed to increasing efficiencies in the sector.
“The volume of out of gauge cargo on WA roads will increase substantially over the next year as resources construction activity peaks, so it’s imperative these issues are sorted out now,” Mr Howard-Smith said.
“There is still more work to be done in improving the efficiency of the approvals and permits system, and planning for these major cargo movements,” he said.
“Industry is keen to see road infrastructure improvements in the metropolitan area as well as Great Eastern Highway, and for Government to streamline the way these loads are managed to reduce delays.
“Not only will industry benefit but so to the driving public who share the roads with these large items.”