Friday, November 26, 2010

Another Intermodal Freight Hub Comes Under Fire

Giant Scheme 'Too Close To Homes'
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – We regularly have to highlight the pro’s and con’s of the development of multi modal freight terminals in the UK and elsewhere as, world wide, the onus switches to less polluting methods to transport cargo. For every bright eyed developer there is usually to be found a bunch of local residents desperate to prevent the scheme. Cries of ‘profiteer’ and ‘Not in my back yard’ resound and the result is usually a long drawn out battle which may take years to resolve.

Now a plan to develop just such an intermodal shipping terminal on former defence land at Moorebank, New South Wales, with an estimated cost around half a billion Australian dollars, is already dividing local opinion. The attractions of seducing 40% of freight traffic from the roads onto rail, with the dual virtues of less pollution and congestion are obvious to all but the local mayor has been quoted as saying that the rail track operating 24/7 will affect residents unduly due to its proximity to a major urban area.

Now the authorities have confirmed there will be a full consultation procedure and yesterday confirmed that the Freight Infrastructure Advisory Board, a joint NSW Government-stakeholder committee, in 2005 stated that 83 hectare site is a key component in meeting Sydney’s intermodal capacity needs. The scheme targets container traffic to and from Port Botany and government estimates say it will create 1,700 jobs.

The terminal is the brainchild of the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA), a consortium made up of property giants Stockland, Qube Logistics and QR National and Planning Minister Tony Kelly said the Department of Planning will now assess the SIMTA project under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Before making any decision SIMTA must:

• Undertake a comprehensive consultation with the community, particularly nearby residents, as it develops plans.

• Develop a proposal to be placed on public exhibition for at least 30 days, after addressing the relevant key issues outlined by the Department.

• Respond to submissions

Critics of the scheme have already commented on concerns that the extra local traffic generated will cause problems on parts of the already congested Highway M5 and interested parties are advised to keep track of developments as they occur.

Photo: Port Botany Container Terminal