At yesterday evening’s Botany Industrial Park Community Consultative Committee, the Local Area Police chief, Commander Karen McCarthy, gave a presentation on the Botany Bay Disaster Plan.  She outlined critical traffic challenges –  the difficulties facing emergency response teams as well as the impacts caused by  breakdowns.  A truck breakdown on General Holmes Drive can result in gridlock on roads into the CBD.  For every 10 minutes that the  M5 is blocked another 1/2 kilometre of traffic is added to queues on the Eastern Distributor.  One of the recommendations of the Emergency Plan is for a Road Network Assessment to be conducted.  Note that in the the Government’s submission to Infrastructure Australia “Port Botany and Sydney Airport and Transport Improvement Program” dated November 2011, Police NSW are not included in the list of Agencies consulted!  Nor are the Police included in the recent Amendment to the Protection of the Environment Legislation as one of the agencies to be notified – the agencies listed are EPA, Local Council, Fire & Rescue, Health and Workcover.  This new regime arguably encourages a lower degree of coordination than the previous as no one Government Agency takes overall control from the beginning of an event.  (Left- Map of Study Area for Transport Plan).

For far too many years major traffic generating developments in this region have been approved without adequate planning being conducted.  The Port Expansion is the prime example.  It was approved for a cap of 3.2 million TEU on the premise that the rail share for container movements was increased from around 20%(2004 figures) to 40%.  Recently at Budget Estimates Hearings it has been revealed that instead of the rail share increasing in recent years it has fallen to 14% . Reference is made to raising the cap and dropping the rail target to 28%.  How is Sydney going to cope with the additional heavy vehicles.  Mayor of Botany Bay Municipality, Ron Hoenig, is not optimistic – read his blog post of 23/11/11

The Botany Bay and Catchment Alliance(BBACA) campaign against the Port Expansion focussed not only on the negative impacts for biodiversity and amenity of Botany Bay but also on the inadequate  road and rail network supporting port operations.  BBACA maintained that an expanded Port would strangle Sydney and impact the efficiency and productivity of the region. The cost of building a supporting road and rail network is far more expensive than alternative expansions, however when Treasury evaluated the cases presented by each of the Port Corporations (Sydney, Kembla, Newcastle) they did not factor in the supporting infrastructure costs for Sydney (borne by all NSW residents) but argued that freight from Newcastle and/or Kembla would add additional costs for consumers.

No amount of reason, including the recommendations from a Commission of Inquiry, could dissuade the Iemma government from approving the Port Expansion.  The O’Farrell government now has to deal with the consequences of that decision and the Police and other emergency agencies have to work out how they are going to cope with a full scale disaster in this region when even a minor breakdown can produce gridlock.  The new Transport Plan recommends a significant investment in road infrastructure to support major Port and Airport Growth.  The Chairman of the Corporation that owns Sydney Airport is heading a committee to look at transport inadequacies.  No one is suggesting that growth in this geographically challenged area is unsustainable and it is certainly not in the interests of the owners of Sydney Airport to acknowledge this.

Recent posts:  LINK 1  LINK 2     LINK 3

One Response to “PORT STRANGLEHOLD – NO SAVING SYDNEY”
  1. John says:

    Since moving to the Botany area 11 years ago, I have become interested in the movement of freight in the Sydney Basin. The Airport and Port Botany are adjacent and unusually close to the centre of Sydney, unlike most global cities which established their major container ports and airports well away from their centres years ago. I was active in opposing the current expansion of Port Botany and authored a submission to the Tribunal enquiring into the proposal. The Tribunal ‘s findings and subsequent report were overruled and the current expansion approved. At the time, however, the achievement of a 3.2M TEU per annum throughput at Port Botany was a trigger for the development of Port Newcastle as the next container port. This gave the residents of the precinct some reassurance but it now appears this figure was another ‘non-core promise’.

    Port Kembla would be closer to many of South Western Sydney’s Warehouses if the Dombarton/Maldon rail line were completed and have the added advantage of container trains avoiding built-up residential areas. Newcastle would be a lot closer to the Central Coast.

    The crowding of a huge number of containers in such a constrained area as Botany and the problem of moving them to intermodal depots is going to test your ingenuity. I can only hope that a factor in future freight planning will be common sense.

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