Council has adopted a position not to support the state government proposals for Sections 1 and 2 of the Perth Freight Link (PFL) as currently proposed and has called on the state government to put the current proposal on hold until further long-term freight planning and better options are developed.
Council believes there has been insufficient planning and analysis of the many serious and negative implications associated with the current proposals, which contradicts planning that has been in place for many years.
Some of the many reasons council has taken this position is that the PFL, in its current proposed form:
- is contrary to many decades of accepted planning for freight transport in the metropolitan region
- undermines development of Latitude 32 and the Kwinana Intermodal Terminal as key parts of Perth’s freight strategy and the outer harbour
- raises questions that have not been adequately answered in relation to the proposed sale of Fremantle Port
- has severe impacts on the Beeliar Wetland and Banksia Woodlands
- negatively impacts the urban renewal of both the City of Fremantle and the Town of East Fremantle by undermining their economic development through the creation of an effective “by-pass”
- severs communities within Fremantle from the CBD and essential facilities including schools
- creates uncertainty as to how the proposed river crossing might affect claimed travel-time benefits and the resulting cost/benefit assessment;
- undermines the viability of achieving the long-held aspirational target of putting 30% of freight on rail;
- puts additional pressure on failing intersections
- substantially increases diesel particulates with damaging long term health effects
- increases truck flows down Curtin Avenue
- fractures North Fremantle and causes congestion at the port’s entrance
- prohibits tourists and local beach users from access to and through North Fremantle
- involves poorly examined construction logistics with little or no analysis of their community and local economic impacts.
Council has taken a position which supports the planning and development of an outer harbour serviced by rail. The outer harbour concept is in keeping with many decades of settled freight transport and urban planning.
A long-term solution to container freight transport issues based on rail as the key component would result in:
- a more cost effective long term solution for freight transport
- saving the high values conservation area, Beeliar Wetlands, from decimation through road building
- minimising localised freight impacts, especially at High Street and North Fremantle
- a reduction of carbon intensive greenhouse gas emissions
- a reduction in community health issues related to road trauma and exhaust emissions
- better utilisation of existing road infrastructure.
Council commissioned the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute to develop an independent report - Perth Freight Link: Making the right investment in Perth’s freight task. This document was tabled at the council meeting and will be used for further investigation of the council’s preferred alternative.
Map: Perth Freight link as currently proposed by the state government
The Perth Freight Link (PFL) as currently proposed, is an infrastructure project that seeks to increase the road capacity from Perth Airport to Fremantle Port by the creation of a freeway standard road between these two points, and ultimately linking to a larger road network of similar standard. The PFLhas a current project budget of $1.575 billion, with $925m of this coming from the federal government and $650m from the State (of which $59m is already committed to upgrades of High Street, Fremantle.
Council views the PFL as not being in the best interests of Fremantle, the region or the state. It is doubtful it will address the serious freight issues associated with Fremantle Ports for anything other than a very short period. If built, it will destroy the significant Beeliar Wetlands that are crucial to Perth’s biodiversity. The very significant budget associated with the PFL would better serve Western Australia through getting containers off trucks and onto freight rail.
Fremantle Council has a position of supporting a working port, and aspires to see a working port in long term planning for the future of Fremantle. However the predicted increase in container trade makes it essential an outer harbour is progressed as a matter of urgency.
Known options currently available to the government for an alternative freight option are any or all of the following:
- Replace the inner harbour with the outer harbour in Cockburn Sound Develop the outer harbour to take overflow from the inner harbour
- Expansion of an existing harbour in a regional area such as Bunbury or Geraldton including development of landside transport infrastructure to support that function
- Expansion of rail capacity to the inner harbour
- Expansion of road capacity to the inner harbour.
The State Government has committed to transporting up to 30% of containers by rail, yet does not have plans to upgrade rail infrastructure to meet that commitment. This aspiration is currently not realised with only 14% of containers transported by rail in 2013-14 financial year (source: WA Minister for Transport).
The existing rail infrastructure cannot support the existing 30% target with current demand; it is unreasonable to contest it could support double that number of containers. It is essential that investment be made in rail infrastructure to transport containers.