Ports Australia, the peak body representing Australia’s Ports operators have complained about environmental scrutiny and paying for environmental management and mitigation.  Submission to the Draft National Ports Strategy. 

The current Chairman of Ports Australia  is Jeff Coleman (Brisbane) and Deputy Chairs are Gary Webb (Newcastle) and Vincent Tremaine (Flinders). The other Board members are Stephen Bradford (Melbourne), Andre Bush (Port Hedland), Brad Fish (NQBP), Grant Gilfillan (Sydney), Robert Ritchie (Darwin) and Paul Weedon (TasPorts – up until 2010 Chief Operating Officer at Sydney Ports).

Ports flounder in red tape, Annabel Hepworth, The Australian, June 28, 2010



Container ships at Port Botany in Sydney. Picture: Stephen Cooper Source: The Australian

THE country’s ports are demanding the federal and state governments fast-track approvals for channel dredging.

The port authorities have warned that Australia’s trade performance is threatened by costly and unwieldy regulation of the waterfront.

The ports have told Infrastructure Australia, the federal advisory body chaired by businessman Rod Eddington, that community groups are disrupting crucial dredging projects on “spurious and unfounded grounds” while regulatory authorities are increasingly saddling project proponents with higher environment-related costs.

The warning comes as the level of cargo moving through container ports is growing at about twice the rate of the national economy and miners seek to ramp up exports to capitalise on soaring iron ore and coal prices.

Infrastructure Australia, along with the National Transport Commission, is developing a national ports strategy to ensure that goods from farms, mines and factories can be exported without the bottlenecks that plagued Australia towards the end of the last commodities boom.

Back then, long ship queues outside Queensland’s massive Dalrymple Bay coal terminal prompted the Howard government to threaten to take over the management of the ports.

The strategy will go to the next Council of Australian Governments meeting, which is expected in coming weeks.

Ports have been deepening shipping channels to boost exports because vessels are getting bigger and deeper.

The Port of Melbourne’s channel deepening was marred by controversy, with fierce opposition from community and environment groups resulting in a court fight that held up the dredging works.

More broadly, Ports Australia — which represents ports including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Port Hedland — warns that the process of securing dredging approvals is dogged by “considerable” delay and expense.

“Many regulatory authorities take no responsibility for measuring these impacts or, so it would seem, of factoring into their processes, the pro-trade, pro-jobs and industry facilitation policies of their respective governments,” it states in the submission.

As well as community groups, the ports warn that some regulators are imposing “substantial additional costs” on the proponents of dredging projects.

“We have recently also detected among some regulators, with regard to dredging proposals, an attitude that it is reasonable to impose substantial additional costs on proponents for offsets in addition to the project itself, including associated environmental management and amelioration costs.

“These expectations are based on the regulator’s perceptions of future profits rather than what is reasonable under disciplines that should be exercised by any regulator to minimise the cost of infrastructure project approvals, and of regulatory imposts generally, on the economy.”

In Western Australia, a $1 billion channel deepening has been proposed for the inner harbour at Port Hedland to allow greater iron ore exports.

That project could unlock further investment in iron ore, with projects by miners that are linked to the expansion including projects by the North West Iron Ore Alliance, which is aiming to grow a junior iron ore sector in the Pilbara, Fortescue Metals Group and also Hancock Prospecting.

Also in Western Australia, Fremantle port is pursuing a dredging program.

As well as the larger ports, Ports Australia wants support for channel dredging extended to smaller ports that could experience significant growth.

Other groups such as the Minerals Council of Australia are also calling for reforms to environmental approval processes for the ports.

“Governments should be considering what they can do to fast-track major infrastructure proposals, including improving regulatory approval processes to ensure that industry infrastructure capacity can be built to meet demand,” the council says in its submission to IA.

The draft national ports strategy, which is subject to consultation, is closely examining the issue of environmental assessments and how to streamline them.

Much of the focus has been on the land side access to the ports.

Investors in the country’s ports argue that they need more predictable timeframes on decisions when they are considering capacity expansions.




2 Responses to “Demands to fast-track approvals for channel dredging”
  1. admin says:

    Follow up on dredging of Port Phillip Bay: http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/07/02/2943703.htm (video link)
    Focus on tides as Bay beaches disappear
    Source: Stateline Victoria
    Published: Friday, July 2, 2010 8:08 AEST
    Expires: Thursday, September 30, 2010 8:08 AEST

    As beaches continue to suffer, authorities have ruled out a link to the controversial dredging of Port Phillip Bay

    FRANCES BELL, PRESENTER: Beaches around Port Philip Bay have always been subject to the vagaries of the weather and the waves. But this year has seen extreme changes at some bay beaches, and many are asking if one of the biggest dredging projects in the world could be responsible. Matthew Stanley reports.

    MATTHEW STANLEY, REPORTER: By the time the Queen of the Netherlands finally sailed out of Port Philip Bay for the last time, thousands of hours and millions of dollars had been spent debating the merits and possible consequences of channel deepening. In the end, the actual work went relatively smoothly and was judged by its proponents as a great success.

    JOHN BRUMBY, PREMIER: There are a lot of people who said that this project couldn’t be done. There are a lot of people who said that this project would damage the environment. The fact of the matter is this has been an exemplary project.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Opponents warned it was too early to know what damage might have been done.

    JENNY WARFE, BLUE WEDGES (August, 2009): I think there are going to be impacts for a long time, maybe indefinitely.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Fast forward a year and some believe that warning is now playing out in dramatic fashion.

    TIM RODGERS, MORNINGTON PENINSULA SHIRE: It’s been quite a remarkable change. As you can see, the work’s going on here, the sandbags here, the trees disappearing up along the beach. It’s been a remarkable change and the community are very concerned about it.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: In less than 12 months Portsea Front Beach has been almost completely washed away. The foundations of the Portsea pier have been undermined and an urgent repair job is underway, while each high tide exposes more rock and eats further into the grass-covered dunes.

    So this has just come down recently, this part of the bank with this tree here.

    TIM RODGERS: Yeah, this came down a couple of week ago. This is holding the – the trees are holding the foreshore together.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor Tim Rodgers is one of many locals who fear their beach is a casualty to widen and deepen the entrance to the bay.

    TIM RODGERS: When you muck around with the environment you do it at your peril. It is a risky thing to do, to play around with nature.

    DON HOUGH, OFFICE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MONITOR: On the facts that we have the conclusion that we draw is that this is not caused by channel deepening.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Is it possible that you don’t have all the facts, or all the relevant facts?

    DON HOUGH: No, we’ve got sufficient facts to be able to draw a conclusion, which is if there was a profound effect from channel deepening, you’d expect to see it in the Great Sands itself.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: The Great Sands is an underwater accumulation of sand in the south of the bay. Don Huff is the director of the body responsible for monitoring the effects of channel deepening and says the changes to beaches around the bay are coincidental.

    DON HOUGH: The bay’s beaches are inherently dynamic. It’s a feature of the evolution of the bay. And beaches are not a permanent feature; they are a short-term feature. And the beaches, as we know them, also come and go from year to year.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Bay beaches from Point Lonsdale to Point Nepean have taken a battering this year.

    WARREN HOLLIER, ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER: It’s Mother Nature. I don’t know whether you’re gonna call it global warming, but it’s a cycle and it has to run its course. To try and stop it is futile. The best thing we can do is just try and work along with it.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: This year’s beach renourishment program is the biggest yet, with around a million cubic metres of sand being brought in to the worst-affected beaches. Warren Hollier has a contract to reinforce sand dunes at risk of erosion like at Ricketts Point.

    WARREN HOLLIER: I wouldn’t say we’re doing more now; it’s just that people are noticing us doing work now because of what’s happened.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: As skipper of the Queenscliff-to-Sorrento ferry, Gus Rodgers has been crossing the bay several times a day for 20 years.

    GUS ROGERS, FERRY CAPTAIN: We’re about a mile from the heads, a mile and a half to the outer edge of the reefs and things where that ship is just about to go through.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Have you noticed any difference since channel deepening finished?

    GUS ROGERS: No, not really. I’ve noticed the Portsea erosion, but it’s very localised.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: But coming so soon after the completion of dredging, there’s no shortage of people convinced the two are connected.

    JASON SALTER, DIVE OPERATOR: We noticed pretty much instantaneously when the mouth of the heads was opened.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Jason Salter runs one of several dive businesses that once depended heavily on Portsea pier as a sheltered dive site. But not anymore.

    JASON SALTER: Now when the tide comes in you get pushed back and forth. Some days so much so that you just simply can’t dive. Now that’s got zero relationship to the weather, that’s got zero relationship to any storms; that’s to do with the tide only. So, nobody’s actually answered why that is occurring.

    DON HOUGH: Coincidence and timing isn’t cause and effect. If you were to link these possibilities together, they’d want to be borne out by very detailed mapping of the sea floor and there’s nothing in that detailed mapping to suggest that that change in currents is a result of dredging.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Approval for channel deepening came with a prediction that the high tide in the southern end of the bay would increase by 10 millimetres or one centimetre.

    But the Greens say high tides are between three centimetres and 10 centimetres higher than they were before dredging.

    GAVIN JENNINGS, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: I think the best science that the environmental monitor has been able to obtain is consistent with what I describe as the 10 millimetre variation, and that’s what was predicted, that has been what has been measured and any amateur science that’s applied to this probably doesn’t help the debate.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: Are you happy to have your analysis tested against theirs?

    SUE PENNICUIK, GREENS MP: Well, I’m happy to say, “This is what I’ve been able to find. You should, as the Government and environmental monitor, you should be looking at it as well.”

    MATTHEW STANLEY: In terms of the science, clearly someone has got it wrong. But in a debate being driven as much by the effects as the cause, there’s this final concession.

    DON HOUGH: I always value local observations. Locals can make observations where you can’t make them through instrumentation, so the work to be done later this year, I’d certainly like to seize those sorts of local observations incorporated into that modelling of the great sands.

    MATTHEW STANLEY: As for Portsea Beach …

    TIM RODGERS: They reckon they had a lovely beach here 12 months or so ago. They used to come down and swim and enjoy the Portsea Beach. Now, you know, it’s a very risky situation to come swimming here. You can see it’s all barricaded off, you’re not allowed down here. It’s a tragedy for the community. We need to understand why this has happened.

    DON HOUGH: I don’t think we’ll ever know what initiated it. What we can be certain of is the – it’s been exacerbated by the effects of swell coming in from the Bass Strait. It’ll get worse before it gets better.

    FRANCES BELL: Matthew Stanley with that story.

  2. Lynda says:

    Paul McLeay MP
    Minister for Ports and Waterways
    Minister for Mineral and Forest Resources
    Minister for the Illawarra
    Friday, 27 August 2010
    A key milestone for the $1 billion Port Botany Expansion Project will be reached at the end of this month as the last concrete counterfort unit is placed to form the outer wall of the new container terminal.
    Ports and Waterways Minister Paul McLeay said the final counterfort would complete the 1850 metres of new wharf face for the third terminal.
    “There are a total of 216 counterforts forming the new quay-side which will provide five new shipping berths at Port Botany,” Mr McLeay said.
    “Visually they are quite spectacular; they range in height from four to seven stories. Their scale is quite impressive,” he said.
    “Ports are our economic gateway to the world. The role they play in our state’s prosperity cannot be over estimated. Continued port growth is the key to helping us build a strong future for the families and workers of NSW.”
    Around 250 workers had been involved in the production and placement of the massive counterfort wall units since mid 2009.
    Regional NSW has also benefitted from the expansion, supplying many of the materials used in the construction of the new terminal:
    • 62,000 tonnes of gravel – from Peats Ridge and Emu Plains
    • 34,000 tonnes of sand – from the Nepean and Kurnell
    • 24,000 tonnes of cement – from various locations around NSW
    Mr McLeay said the Port Botany Expansion has also seen a substantial investment in environmental works.
    “Sydney Ports is investing $8 million in environmental works, including constructing an estuary lookout and a bird hide for migratory birds and expanding the salt marsh and seagrass habitats. Around 230,000 salt-marsh seedlings have also been planted,” Mr McLeay.
    “Port Botany broke it’s trade records last financial year, with total container trade increasing by 8% to reach a record 1.928 million TEUs (containers measured as twenty foot equivalent units,” he said.
    “All trends indicate this is going to continue, and that is why we’re building the third terminal. We’re building for the future growth and prosperity of NSW.
    Mr McLeay said there were two interesting trends at the Port.

    “One is our growing trade relationship with Asia, which accounts for 62% of all volume in and out of the Port.
    “The other is the continued growth of exports from regional NSW.
    “The higher exports of cereals, cotton, non-ferrous metals and paper products have been the primary drivers of the growth. China, New Zealand, Japan and the United States continue to be the main consumers of these local products.
    “However, the standout export commodity is cotton, with demand from Asian countries boosting cotton exports by 138.7 %,” Mr McLeay said.
    Other exports to experience strong growth were:
    o Cereal exports (including wheat and barley), up19.1% on last year due to favourable conditions in the North and Central West.
    o export of dairy products and eggs saw an increase of 136.5% on the previous year.
    o wood, timber and cork grew 22%,
    o vegetables and legumes grew almost 10% while
    o oil seeds, nuts and kernels grew 12.4%
    Media Contact: Anna Burns 9228 4777 / 0438 379 784

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