Newcastle residents short-changed by the State Government

Many Newcastle residents feel short-changed by the State Government when they approve development without investing upfront in the necessary infrastructure to mitigate the development impacts.

With the State Government continuing to approve industrial development on Kooragang Island, it was surprising a few years ago that they chose to replace the old two-lane Tourle Street Bridge with a new two-lane Bridge, when for an extra $15 million they could have constructed a four-lane bridge.

Now, the already busy Cormorant Road is getting busier and a duplication of the Tourle Street Bridge and Cormorant Road is necessary. The price tag now is likely to be in excess of $50 million.

This infrastructure not only services Kooragang Island but also residents from Stockton and Port Stephens coming to the City and Newcastle residents going to the airport.

Where is the investment to beautify this important gateway to the City?

Newcastle residents will be severely impacted by the expansion of our Port unless the State Government invests upfront in the necessary infrastructure.

Newcastle Port Corporation has developed a Concept Plan for the redevelopment of a 90-hectare portion of the former BHP site.

This proposal includes seven new wharfs to support several cargo precincts. These include a dry bulk precinct; a general purpose precinct; a major container terminal with a trade volume of 1 million containers every year; and, a bulk liquid precinct for fuels and biofuels.

The Port Corporation’s plans as they currently stand would choke our roads.

The Port Corporation predicts that a significant amount of the goods to and from the Port would be by road – this will include 800,000 containers each year, 1,010 million litres of fuel and 3.1 million tonnes of other products.

Yet the Port Corporation seems to have ignored how this road freight will move through Newcastle (other than to specify that 60% of the cargo will travel to and from Sydney).

Will the freight traffic use the F3 freeway to Beresfield and the already busy New England highway and Industrial Drive? Or the shorter route down the Link Road and through the suburbs from Wallsend to Sandgate and then to Industrial Drive?

Either way, Industrial Drive will become grid locked under the Port Corporation’s proposal.

And there is nothing to stop the freight trucks travelling down our suburban roads through ‘rat-runs’. In fact the Port Corporation has not even looked at this possibility or made any commitment to fund the necessary Local Area Traffic Management controls to stop this from happening.

Once again Newcastle is being short-changed by State Government entities pushing development without providing the necessary infrastructure upfront to mitigate the impact on local residents.

When the Federal Government released its draft National Ports Strategy last year it recognised that local residents living near our ports would be impacted by future development unless investment in infrastructure occurred upfront.

One approach highlighted was the “early identification and land-use reservation of lands for major freight corridors”.

A regional freight rail bypass between Fassifern and Hexham and a freight hub in the vicinity of Beresfield has been on the drawing books for years. It was highlighted five years ago in the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy.

But the State Government has not dedicated the route, let alone invested in the infrastructure.

Removing freights trains from our residential areas would not only improve the way freight gets to and from our Port, but improve the amenity for all residents along the line from Fassifern to Islington and provide the opportunity for faster and better passenger services as well as bringing to an end the excessive delays at the Adamstown gates.

A dedicated rail freight line direct to the former BHP site is also required.

This Mayfield Portside rail line would connect from the Kooragang spur line at Sandgate to the former BHP site and onto the Carrington rail facilities.

This would allow most imports and exports to our Port to be by rail and remove the significant impact that the Port Corporation’s current proposal would have on local residents.

Most of the freight (including all the coal to the Carrington terminal) would use this new Mayfield Portside rail line. This would significantly reduce freight movements past all our suburbs from Warabrook to Tighes Hill and improve their amenity.

Our local residents are impacted already by the operations at the Port, and they deserve better.

The Port Corporation has been sending millions of dollars each year to Sydney. Now it’s time for the State Government to invest upfront in this necessary infrastructure before any further development is approved.

Councillor Michael Osbourne

Greens Councilor for Newcastle

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