Fremantle Port sale: residents to face rising container truck traffic for 15 years

A bill for the lease of Fremantle Port has gone before parliament.
A bill for the lease of Fremantle Port has gone before parliament.

COTTESLOE and North Fremantle residents face at least 15 years of rising container truck traffic as a result of legislation to sell the inner Fremantle Port and rules for any new outer Kwinana port.

“Analysis of capacity and trade growth has confirmed the outer harbour, which would be additional to the inner harbour operations, will not be required for at least 15 years and probably much longer,” WA Treasurer Mike Nahan said when the legislation was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday .

The Port’s estimated $2 billion sale is part of a $16 billion Government asset sell-off before State debt reaches an estimated $40 billion in 2018-19.

In April, Dr Nahan said the inner harbour’s use should be maximised to get the most out of it before the outer harbour is built, but if his policy is followed 740,000 current annual container movements at the inner port now could rise to two million by 2030.

About 85 per cent of container trucks now use either Tydeman Road, North Fremantle or Curtin Avenue, Cottesloe while the remainder go on several daily freight trains that are limited by having to share the Fremantle Railway Bridge with commuter trains.

Last week, Dr Nahan said allowing the inner port to reach its “natural capacity” with a private operator meant lower port prices and undescribed “benefits” to the community.

“But we experience daily difficulties with the truck traffic now, and if it triples daily amenity will plunge,” North Fremantle Community Association chairman Gerard MacGill said.

Mr MacGill said allowing the inner harbour lessee to decide the outer harbour’s construction showed it was now “transparent” that the Government wanted the buyer to not lose container traffic to another site during the agreement.

He said residents were already “nervous” about more trucks effects on home values, and any new roads for heavier port traffic.

They felt “squeezed” between the Perth Freight Link (PFL) from the south servicing a privatised inner port and the proposed realignment of Curtin Avenue from Cottesloe in the north.

Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett, a former North Fremantle resident, said the PFL was not going to have “much impact” on the suburb apart from some “modest correction” to its roads.

“There’s been lots of rebuilding in North Fremantle, and it’s got all the characteristics of an inner-city suburb, so there’s always pressures on it, but I think it’s an idyllic little spot,” he said.