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Port of Newcastle 2040 master plan: containers and other trade to grow

Thursday, 27 December 2018 | 12:00

Following on its intention to build a container terminal, the privatised Port of Newcastle (PoN) has published a 20-year master plan setting out details of its “ambitious diversification strategy”.

The 82-page Port Master Plan 2040 supersedes a shorter five-year plan produced soon after the port was privatised in 2014, when most of the emphasis was on Newcastle’s status as the world’s largest coal port.

While coal is still a “stable foundation for growth”, the port says Newcastle’s shipping channels are operating at just 50 per cent of capacity and the large scale fully-automated container terminal heads a list of five projects that PoN is banking on to bolster its business.

The other four projects are:

  • new bulk cargo facilities, already under way at the busy Kooragang 2 and 3 wharves on Walsh Point;
  • an “automotive and Ro-Ro hub” (for ships carrying wheeled cargo that can roll on and off);
  • renewal of the former Forgacs shipyard at Carrington, with French defence company Thales already signed on;
  • the long-awaited cruise ship terminal, also at Carrington, at the Channel Berth.

Although the cruise terminal was to be operational this year, a funding stand-off between the port and the NSW government means passengers are still disembarking at temporary facilities.

The container terminal, too, has a major impediment in the form of the contractual handcuffs on competition with Botany now being tested by the competition regulator, but this is not mentioned in the 2040 strategy.

Port chief executive Craig Carmody said the port was a major economic driver for the Hunter region and the rest of the state, and the master plan outlined PoN’s intentions for growth, and its methods of achieving it.

“By 2040 the Australian population will be more than 31 million, and the demand for goods will more than double the volume of freight in this time,” Mr Carmody said.

“The Port of Newcastle has the road, rail and ocean-side capacity and connectivity to ensure it is well-placed to support this growth and become the first choice east coast port.”

The master plan says the Mayfield land is the largest vacant portside site on the eastern seaboard.

“A container terminal would position the Port of Newcastle and the Hunter region as a major commercial trade hub, feeding the growth of the state and easing congestion in Sydney,” the plan says.

It says that the 80-hectare terminal site and the 52-hectare freight and logistics precinct facing Industrial Drive have the capacity to handle 2 million containers a year (Botany does about 2.5 million at present).

It also suggests, apparently for the first time, the potential for dividing the terminal between two operators.

Although much of the port land is in well defined industrial zones, some of it is close to housing, and the master plan lists protection against “urban encroachment” as one of five major goals needed for the business to grow.

On a page with a photo of a cargo carrier passing the Honeysuckle foreshore, the master plan warns against new residential developments being designed without “appropriate noise amelioration” or being approved as high-rise in areas that interfered with navigational sight lines.

Referring to hazardous or offensive cargoes such as fuel and fertiliser that may be stored at the port, the master plan says “planning strategies should ensure that . . . residential, recreational or commercial developments are located such that they would not impede expansion of current port facilities, or restrict facilities in the future”.

“Incoming residents often have unrealistic expectations of the experience of living near a working port, particularly with regards to views and amenity,” the plan says.

“PoN’s Community Liaison Group will continue to be an opportunity for the community to engage with the port, learn about its operations and provide feedback.”

Community groups have long held concerns about the road and rail impacts of the container terminal, with PoN using a concept plan approval that dates from 2012, when the port was in government hands.

Although the master plan says the road and rail network has enough capacity to handle the traffic created by a container terminal, it does note that key intersections onto Industrial Drive will have to be upgraded.

John Hayes, convener of the Correct Planning for Mayfield Group, says community groups had been given early copies of the master plan and were waiting to meet PoN in the new year on a range of issues.

Mr Hayes said the current approval allowed for a huge increase in road and rail traffic, and residents should be concerned.
Source: Newcastle Herald

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