Wednesday , 22 January 2020
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The government of Western Australia has approved two options for Fremantle Ports’ new Outer Harbour container facilities at Kwinana to proceed for planning and environmental approval.

Fremantle ponders expansion options

These are 1) an island design about 1 km offshore and linked by an open spanned bridge to an extension of Rowley Road, north of the Alcoa refinery; and 2) a partially land-backed facility located just south of Alcoa that would include reclamation of the foreshore and an island component with a freight link via Anketell Road.

Both options are smaller than those previously proposed, with a final annual capacity of 1.4m containers, compared with 2.1m. Each is estimated to cost A$1.3bn, including new road and rail links.

According to State Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan, additional berths will be needed to handle the overflow container trade when Fremantle’s Inner Harbour reached optimal capacity. “This is a project of immense economic importance to Western Australia, ensuring that our trade needs continue to be met,” she said.

Container trade at Fremantle has grown by almost 10% annually since the early 1990s and the average size of container ships has increased by about 65% over the past decade. Kwinana was selected as the location for overflow container and general cargo berths following more than 50 technical and planning studies over two decades. The new facilities need to be on the metropolitan coast, as 90% of the State’s container trade travels within 50 km of Fremantle itself.

“The selected options will now be subject to very detailed environmental, planning and economic studies in a full statutory planning and environmental approvals process,” Ms MacTiernan said. “We anticipate that the statutory approvals phase will take about two years, after which one of the options will be chosen. Community consultation, which has been underway since 2003, will continue to be an important part of these approvals processes.”

The overflow facilities are expected to come into their own once Fremantle’s Inner Harbour reaches capacity around 2015. In the meantime, another important initiative is the deepening of the Inner Harbour to cater for larger container ships. By 2020, almost two-thirds of container ships in Australian trade are expected to exceed 12.5 m in draught.

Major shipping lines have rated deepening of the Inner Harbour as one of the most important issues affecting the port, according to CEO Kerry Sanderson. Fremantle Ports is planning to deepen the channel to the Inner Harbour and container Berths 4 to 10 on North Quay. Fill from Inner Harbour deepening would be used to create additional land at Rous Head for port-related use, as set out in the Inner Harbour Port Development Plan.