Fremantle information session: new Kwinana port needs to deliver for residents

(l-r) North Fremantle’s Susanna Bessell-Brown and Fremantle’s Jane Hutchinson look at maps of the potential new port. Picture: Jon Bassett.
(l-r) North Fremantle’s Susanna Bessell-Brown and Fremantle’s Jane Hutchinson look at maps of the potential new port. Picture: Jon Bassett.

TAKING container trucks off roads, job losses and fish breeding grounds being damaged were some concerns raised at the Westport Community Information session in Fremantle last night looking into a new Kwinana port.

“Truck traffic, would it reduce? It’s one of the long-term possibilities that has been explained to us if the containers go to Cockburn Sound,” North Fremantle resident Susanna Bessell-Browne said.

After public opposition stopped the Roe 8 Highway extension into Fremantle, Westport was formed by the State Government last September to investigate a second port south of the Henderson shipyards in a review of all shipping facilities and haulage in the south west.

Current concepts would send the trucks to the planned Latitude 32 intermodal transport yard 5km east of the new port to pick up and deliver containers.

Bull Creek truck driver Brent Guy was concerned about a new port’s impact on snapper breeding, and Government claims 37,000 direct jobs could be created at the facility.

“I don’t believe there will be that many jobs because they’ll be 457 visa jobs and there’ll be heavy automation at the port,” he said.

Maritime Union of Australia WA deputy secretary Adrian Evan said it was prohibitive to spend the estimated $6 billion on a new port just to handle Fremantle’s annual 770,000 containers, and to boost industry it would be better to fill about 125,000 empty containers leaving those wharves each year.

The information session follows six months of community comment on what may have been missed in 30 years of previous planning for the port.

Western Harbours Alliance chair Kim Dravnieks said an interim report was scheduled to be given to the Government in October, but a “lot of work” should be done on any gaps, including fishers’ concerns, to ensure resilience and rehabilitation of seagrasses was included before any work on a port starts.

A taskforce spokeswoman said various port and infrastructure options may be considered, findings from community consultation so far would be in Westport: What have we found so far? late this year, but there were “no pre-conceived ideas, plans or concepts” at this stage.

“Decisions on where additional port facilities will be located, when they will be needed and how they will be supported by other facilities and infrastructure will be made based on the evidence presented in the Westport Strategy,” the spokeswoman said.

The Kwinana Westport community information session is at the Darius Wells Centre, 5.30pm, July 18.