Westport In The Media

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

See Westport's latest news below.

See Westport's latest news below.

  • Westport shortlist five future port options in WA, The Infrastructure Report 23/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago
    Late last week, Westport, the Taskforce commissioned by the WA Government to investigate options to increase Perth’s sea freight capacity, released a shortlist of five future port options. Under all options, a new container port is recommended to be constructed in Kwinana Outer Harbour. Three options propose moving all container operations from Fremantle Port to Kwinana, while two include a load sharing solution between Kwinana and Fremantle.

    The shortlist was determined through analysis of land-use, social, economic and environmental criteria. Westport will now conduct further analysis to determine a preferred option, after which detailed timings, location, scale and costs of...

    Late last week, Westport, the Taskforce commissioned by the WA Government to investigate options to increase Perth’s sea freight capacity, released a shortlist of five future port options. Under all options, a new container port is recommended to be constructed in Kwinana Outer Harbour. Three options propose moving all container operations from Fremantle Port to Kwinana, while two include a load sharing solution between Kwinana and Fremantle.

    The shortlist was determined through analysis of land-use, social, economic and environmental criteria. Westport will now conduct further analysis to determine a preferred option, after which detailed timings, location, scale and costs of the new port can be confirmed.
    Earlier this year, Westport produced a longlist of 25 options, spread across ports at Bunbury, Fremantle or Kwinana, and load-sharing combinations between all three.

    Perth’s container load is forecast to reach 3.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), in 50 years’ time. All shortlisted options were required to meet this capacity.

    A standalone Fremantle Port option was not included in the shortlist, due to supply chain constraints. Major road and rail upgrades would be required through the residential suburbs now surrounding the port. Fremantle Port is forecast to reach maximum capacity of 2.1 million TEU by the mid-2030s. The existing port currently handles a container load of 770,000 TEU.

    Figure 3: A new land-backed container terminal in Kwinana Harbour, with onsite intermodal terminal


    Source: Westport

    The other two standalone Kwinana options were both deep water ports, as opposed to the land-backed option shown above. One option involves a decoupled inland intermodal terminal.

    Two of the other shortlisted options explored load sharing between a new Kwinana Port and the existing Fremantle Port, as shown in Figure 4 below. One option involved a reduced footprint of the land-backed Kwinana Port, with upgraded road and rail infrastructure at both Kwinana and Fremantle ports. This option scored second highest under Westport’s assessment criteria.

    Figure 4: Road, rail and ferry connection between Fremantle and Kwinana ports


    Source: Westport

    The other load sharing option involving Fremantle Port included a ‘blue highway’ barge connection between Kwinana and Fremantle. Shallow draught barges would transport containers directly from ships at Fremantle to Kwinana port for offloading onto trucks.

    A standalone Fremantle Port option was not included in the shortlist, as it is forecast to reach maximum capacity of 2.1 million TEU by the mid-2030s, even with major road or rail upgrades. The existing port currently handles a container load of 770,000 TEU.

    The Westport Taskforce also considered options for port operations in Bunbury. However, these options were not shortlisted due to the long distance to Perth, high capital costs, and port depth constraints.

    The Westport Taskforce was established in 2017 to produce a strategy to guide the WA Government on the long-term development of Perth’s freight network. In addition to new port facilities, the taskforce is examining trade and supply chain infrastructure to ensure 50-year population growth demands are met.

    Further information:

    Key contact:

    Hamilton Hayden, Senior Policy Adviser | hamilton.hayden@infrastructure.org.au


  • Westport announces shortlist of port strategy options, Infrastructure Magazine 23/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago

    By Kim Ho

    The Westport Taskforce Steering Committee has announced its shortlist of five strategies for the long-term management of Western Australia’s growing freight needs. The shortlist includes three standalone options for Kwinana Port and two shared Fremantle/Kwinana options.

    The Westport Taskforce was established in 2017 by the WA Minister for Transport to inform future governance on port trade over the next 50 years and beyond.

    After conducting extensive consultation and research throughout 2018-9, the Taskforce developed a ‘long-list’ of 25 options was based on research and information, including historical data about container ports and Fremantle Ports, the latest port...

    By Kim Ho

    The Westport Taskforce Steering Committee has announced its shortlist of five strategies for the long-term management of Western Australia’s growing freight needs. The shortlist includes three standalone options for Kwinana Port and two shared Fremantle/Kwinana options.

    The Westport Taskforce was established in 2017 by the WA Minister for Transport to inform future governance on port trade over the next 50 years and beyond.

    After conducting extensive consultation and research throughout 2018-9, the Taskforce developed a ‘long-list’ of 25 options was based on research and information, including historical data about container ports and Fremantle Ports, the latest port and freight innovations and modelling by both government agencies and the private sector.

    To determine the best options among the 25, the performance of each was tested across a range of important criteria shaped by community consultation and stakeholder feedback. This process – known as a multi-criteria analysis – allowed all of the options to be ranked in terms of how they best meet the long-term freight needs of Western Australia.

    The first multi-criteria analysis (MCA-1) has now been completed and the top five shortlisted options are:

    1. A land-backed conventional port in Kwinana
    2. A shared-port option featuring Kwinana and Fremantle
    3. Another shared-port option employing a possible new mode of container transportation with the Blue Highway barging concept
    4. An innovative new light footprint port in Kwinana that utilises Latitude 32 as an IMT
    5. A conventional island port in Kwinana
    1. Standalone conventional land-backed port at Kwinana

    Kwinana Option 23 was the top-ranked option in MCA-1. This option is a standalone conventional land-backed port handling the full forecasted container task of 3.8 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit). It has an intermodal terminal (IMT) as part of the port precinct and is more reliant on road transport over rail.

    The port extends along the coastline between the Kwinana Bulk Terminal and the Alcoa jetty. It is serviced by an extended Anketell Road that connects through to Tonkin Highway, and a rail track duplication between the Cockburn Triangle and Kwinana Industrial Area.

    This option was strong across all criteria and topped the rankings regardless of which criteria were given the highest weighting.

    The option scored highly on all criteria, except land availability and beach access/use. It has good land transport connections and low environmental impacts in comparison to other options. Its tried-and-tested conventional port design will present fewer challenges, and it frees up Fremantle for alternative use.

    However, connecting the last kilometre of Anketell Road and the rail line through to the port may be challenging, given existing land holdings and infrastructure in the area. The port will also displace the Kwinana horse beach, and hydrodynamic impacts on Cockburn Sound still to be thoroughly tested.

    2. Shared Fremantle/Kwinana port scenario

    This strategy involves a shared port scenario. Kwinana Option 24 and Fremantle Option 2 were the highest-ranked shared-port option and the second-highest-scoring option in MCA-1.

    The Kwinana port component is essentially the same design as Option 23, but with a slightly smaller port footprint as it would handle the freight task in partnership with Fremantle. It has an IMT as part of the port precinct, is reliant on roads over rail, and is serviced by an extended Anketell Road and duplicated rail track between the Cockburn Triangle and Kwinana Industrial Area.

    The Fremantle component (Option 2) is the existing Inner Harbour footprint but with some additional road, rail and operational enhancements.

    Kwinana Bulk Jetty. Credit: Fremantle Ports.

    3. Shared-port scenario with Blue Highway concept

    This dual-option – Fremantle Option 2 and Kwinana Option 24 – is the same as the second-ranked option except it incorporates the Blue Highway concept of transporting containers from Fremantle to Kwinana on shallow draught barges.

    This scenario has been included in the shortlist to allow Westport to thoroughly investigate the viability of the Blue Highway – which is a common method of transporting containers upstream in other countries – for this particular scenario.

    For the purposes of MCA-2, the Blue Highway concept will be tested as an end-state. However, it is more likely feasible as a temporary mode of transporting containers from Fremantle to Kwinana during a transition phase, due to its low capital cost requirements.

    The Blue Highway concept proposes containers being moved directly from the large container ships onto small barges using specially-designed loading equipment. The barges would then transport the containers directly down to the Kwinana port for off-loading onto trucks.

    A benefit of the Blue Highway is that less dredging may be required due to the shallower depth of the barges.

    The intermodal facility on the Kwinana port would allow for containers to be shifted directly from the barge gantry onto trucks, as shown in Image 1 (top right). This would save
    on time and infrastructure costs.

    For additional investigation is whether the shipping conditions along the coast of Perth may require a breakwater to be built to protect the barges and container transfer operations. Further, the operational costs of this option are likely to be high given the requirement to invest in specialised equipment and barges.

    4. Light footprint standalone port at Kwinana

    Kwinana Option 11 is a standalone option handling the full 3.8 million TEU container task. It has a physically smaller footprint than a conventional port as the IMT operations are decoupled and located in a separate area – in this instance, at Latitude 32.

    The theory is that a narrower port will have better marine environmental outcomes, however this concept is relatively new for container ports and must be further tested. Containers would be moved to or from the ship via Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) that transfers them over a 4km ‘land bridge’ to the IMT at Latitude 32, where they are then transferred to trains or trucks.

    This option is located in the north of Cockburn Sound. It will be serviced by an expanded Rowley Road linking directly through to Tonkin Highway, and a freight rail duplication between the Cockburn Triangle and the Kwinana Industrial Area.

    It connects to land immediately south of the Naval Base shacks and extends south-west into Cockburn Sound past the Alcoa jetty utilising the existing channel. Ships would enter and leave the port from the south.

    5. Standalone conventional island port at Kwinana

    In Kwinana Option 14, this port could handle the full 3.8 million TEU with an IMT facility as part of the island port precinct. The port connects to land adjacent to the Kwinana Industrial Area and the island extends north-westerly in Cockburn Sound towards the Alcoa jetty. Ships enter the channel from the north.

    This port is mainly road-reliant and serviced by an expanded Anketell Road, but also requires a duplicated freight rail track between the Cockburn Triangle and Kwinana Industrial Area.

    What criteria were used to assess the options?

    With the benefit of input from stakeholders, a list of assessment criteria was identified that would assist in separating and emphasising the differences between the options, and help determine a clear ranking.

    The purpose of MCA-1 was to:

    • Measure how well the options performed against ranking across all criteria the essential components that make up a successful port and supply chain
    • Highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each option
    • Test each option’s reliance on just one or two areas of strength – rather than an acceptable or high ranking across all criteria – by conducting sensitivity testing
    • Allocate scores which would allow the top-ranked options to be taken forward to the next stage of testing

    Fremantle Harbour. Image credit: Tourism WA.

    Ranking the options

    To apply the assessment criteria to the 25 options to determine their scores and ranking, Westport held more than 16 hours of workshops with subject matter experts.

    For every option, a score of one-to-five was assigned for each criterion; one being the worst performing option and fve the best performing option (with at least one best- and worst-performing option assigned for every criterion). This allocated the options a final score out of 500 points.

    Surprisingly, a stand-alone Fremantle option did not make Westport’s shortlist. The Taskforce found that, contrary to popular belief, a strategy involving an existing port is not necessarily the cheaper option.

    The high cumulative capital costs, concerns over the long-term sustainability and scalability and large levels of social impact meant that the two standalone Fremantle options in Westport’s long-list (Option 1 and Option 3) performed poorly in the MCA-1 ratings when assessed against other options. Consequently, these two options will not proceed any further in Westport’s process.

    Similarly, while Bunbury Port does not feature in the shortlisted options, the Taskforce identified plenty of opportunities for future growth and expansion. Westport found that growing the local container task may eventually lead to the critical mass required to establish a niche stevedore operation at the port.

    Establishing a container operation at Bunbury Port would encourage large industries to operate in the area – especially with such an abundance of industrial land available close to the port. Facilitating industrial development could also spur social and economic development for the region as it would create skilled job opportunities for locals and bring more people to the area for work purposes.

    The future of Westport

    This shortlist will now go through a second, even more rigorous multi-criteria analysis (MCA-2) and a cost-benefit analysis to determine the strongest option. This work will form the basis of Westport’s recommendations for managing Perth’s expanding freight task long-term.

    Westport is scheduled to provide a final recommendation (or most and second-most preferred options) to the WA Government at the end of 2019.

    Read Infrastructure’s interview with Nicole Lockwood, Chair of the Westport Taskforce. View more information on the five shortlisted options here, and a complete long-list of 25 options here.


  • I'M FOR NOTHING - Mayor against Roe 8 AND Kwinana, The West Australian 23/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago



  • Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt accused of hypocrisy for opposing ‘premature construction’ of outer harbour in Cockburn Sound, The West Australian 23/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago

    Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt has been accused of hypocrisy after he backed a contentious petition opposing the “premature construction” of a new harbour in Cockburn Sound.

    Dr Pettitt’s support for the petition came despite his long history of opposition to the Roe Highway extension, which is designed to boost operations at Fremantle Port.

    Dr Pettitt — touted as a future Greens MP — was among 2500 signatories to a petition organised by the “Fish Army”, calling on Parliament to oppose building a new port until Fremantle Port had reached “full capacity”.

    The Fish Army has links to the Maritime Union...

    Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt has been accused of hypocrisy after he backed a contentious petition opposing the “premature construction” of a new harbour in Cockburn Sound.

    Dr Pettitt’s support for the petition came despite his long history of opposition to the Roe Highway extension, which is designed to boost operations at Fremantle Port.

    Dr Pettitt — touted as a future Greens MP — was among 2500 signatories to a petition organised by the “Fish Army”, calling on Parliament to oppose building a new port until Fremantle Port had reached “full capacity”.

    The Fish Army has links to the Maritime Union of Australia, which is also campaigning against an outer harbour.

    The Fish Army have established a so-called “direct branch” inside WA Labor and claim they will have the numbers next year to have a say on electing Labor parliamentary candidates.

    Ports Minister Alannah MacTiernan pointed out the Greens went to the last election supporting an outer harbour.

    “We would be expecting a modicum of consistency from the Greens,” Ms MacTiernan said.

    She said the Greens were fierce opponents of Roe 8 and 9 because of the damage it would have done to wetlands and warned they could not oppose both the highway extension and an alternative to the Fremantle Port.

    In a statement in 2017, Greens Upper House MP Lynn MacLaren said seagrass in Cockburn Sound had to be protected — but the sound’s healthiest seagrass beds were south of Cockburn Sound at Mangles Bay and on the east side of Garden Island — not on the Kwinana industrial strip.

    City of Melville mayor Russell Aubrey said the Fremantle council’s stance was incongruous.

    “On one hand they don’t want to build Roe 8 and 9 and on the other hand environmentally they’re against the outer harbour.

    “To be not supporting the outer harbour without supporting Roe 8 and 9 makes no sense.”

    MUA's Ben Lawver, petitioner Alan Nelson, Fish Army's Mike Pritchard and small business owner Tim Barlow pictured at State Parliament.Picture: The West Australian, Danella Bevis.

    Mr Aubrey said expanding Leach Highway, which is one option in the Westport Taskforce’s short-list of future port development, would have a negative impact on Melville.

    “For me it’s all about building Roe Highway and the (McGowan) Government getting its head around it as the best option for freight and the community,” he said.

    Dr Pettitt, pictured, said the petition did not oppose the construction of an outer harbour at Kwinana — but opposed the premature construction of an outer harbour.

    “That is an important distinction to make,” the mayor said in a statement.

    He said Fremantle Council had been consistent in its support for both a working port in Fremantle and for long-term planning for an outer harbour.

    “This does not need to be a black or white choice between the moving the entire container load to Kwinana or building the Perth Freight Link,” Dr Pettitt said.

    Dr Pettit said with some smart investments Fremantle Port had capacity to expand without increasing its impact on the local community.

    Shadow transport minister Libby Mettam said if Dr Pettitt was opposed to the outer harbour he should support the extension of Roe 8 and 9.

    “It’s great to see Brad Pettitt on board,” Ms Mettam said.


  • Port plan unsound, The West Australian 23/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago



  • Residents the last port of call, Cockburn Gazette 22/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago



  • No link in harbour plan, Cockburn Gazette 22/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago



  • Why Building an Outer Harbour Immediately would be Premature, Mayor Brad Pettitt's blog 22/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago

    As Westport revealed its short-list for future port options in the last week, I have become increasingly concerned that the State Government may be leaning towards supporting the option of moving all container operations from Fremantle Ports to Kwinana sooner rather than later.

    While, I have been broadly impressed with the Westport process and its attempts to be transparent, evidenced-based and forward thinking, I am concerned that a shift to Kwinana would be premature and based on inadequate assumptions. Let me explain.

    The Fremantle Inner Harbour is currently handling around 790,000 TEU (containers) a year, but there is good evidence...

    As Westport revealed its short-list for future port options in the last week, I have become increasingly concerned that the State Government may be leaning towards supporting the option of moving all container operations from Fremantle Ports to Kwinana sooner rather than later.

    While, I have been broadly impressed with the Westport process and its attempts to be transparent, evidenced-based and forward thinking, I am concerned that a shift to Kwinana would be premature and based on inadequate assumptions. Let me explain.

    The Fremantle Inner Harbour is currently handling around 790,000 TEU (containers) a year, but there is good evidence to suggest that it could handle 2.1 million TEU without requiring any major works to the port itself. It would, however, require upgrades to the transport network and operations.

    Westport, however, is planning for a port that can handle between 3.8 million TEU and 5.4 million TEU by 2068 – a capacity not required until well in the future.

    In other words, the High St upgrade (due to start shortly) and an increase in freight on rail “will see the port and transport network functioning adequately until the middle on the 2030s”, as Gareth Parker reports in the Sunday Times.

    Parker goes on to say: “… what is clear is that the Fremantle Port will serve Perth’s needs for at least the next two decades. A new port will take a decade to plan and build so by all means preserve options further south beyond that timeframe, but to build it earlier will be a waste of taxpayers capital”

    For the first time in a while, I’m agreeing with Gareth.

    There are a few other reasons that the Westport taskforce might be over-estimating the level and speed of growth of container/TEU numbers, truck movements and hence the urgency around timing for the construction of an outer harbour.

    The first is around Westport’s projected consumption per capita. At the moment there is around 1 TEU for every 2.9 people in Perth or 0.35 TEU per person per year. This has been the average for the last decade. Westport is predicting that this figure is going to radically change over the next 40 years, jumping to 1.1 TEU’s per person per year or around three times the current level of consumption per person. This extreme jump in imported consumption sounds both highly unlikely and highly undesirable.

    A second point is that an increase in containers through Fremantle Port does not necessarily mean an increase in truck movements. Over the last five years, while the number of containers/TEUs through the Fremantle Port has risen, the number of truck movements has not. This is because there have been less trucks running empty in one direction and a more efficient use of the network. More than 20% of containers are now freighted on trains, further reducing the movement of trucks.

    The re-building of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge to include a dedicated rail line for freight trains will enable even more freight on rail during daylight hours. A target of 30% is well within reach, provided we see an investment of new rail stock that can run more quietly through Fremantle and Cockburn.

    The Fremantle Council has been consistent in its support for both the maintenance of a working container port in Fremantle, whilst planning for an outer harbour in the long-term. But, as the stats above demonstrate, there is no need to rush into making a one of Perth’s biggest ever infrastructure investments.

    It makes more sense for port infrastructure investments to be broken down into smaller fragments that can be delivered in the short-term. An upgraded High Street and dedicated freight rail line over the Swan River are important investments to which the State Government is committed.

    Next steps could include a focus on a more efficient use of our current freight network so that quieter, cleaner trucks run fully loaded and more frequently in off-peak hours.

    We would also like to see progress on bigger investments, such as the shifting of RORO cars and scrap metal off Victoria Quay, allowing more of this area to be opened up to opportunities for tourists and locals.

    All of these actions would extend the life of Fremantle’s inner harbour, which has plenty of years in it yet.



  • Port plan pushback begins with petition to go before WA Parliament, Watoday 22/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago

    By Cameron Myles

    Pushback to plans for a new port in Kwinana has begun amid concerns over the environmental impact on Cockburn Sound and debate on just when the current container port in Fremantle will hit its capacity.

    A petition of more than 2500 signatures in opposition to the plans, outlined in the Westport Taskforce’s long-awaited shortlist last week, was collected by the Maritime Union of Australia’s WA branch and due to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday morning by Labor North Metro MLC Martin Pritchard.

    Westport’s shortlist of five preferred options for the future of WA ports has...

    By Cameron Myles

    Pushback to plans for a new port in Kwinana has begun amid concerns over the environmental impact on Cockburn Sound and debate on just when the current container port in Fremantle will hit its capacity.

    A petition of more than 2500 signatures in opposition to the plans, outlined in the Westport Taskforce’s long-awaited shortlist last week, was collected by the Maritime Union of Australia’s WA branch and due to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday morning by Labor North Metro MLC Martin Pritchard.

    Westport’s shortlist of five preferred options for the future of WA ports has drawn flak for ruling out any possibility of keeping Fremantle as the only container port in the state, instead proposing three different designs for a standalone container port in Kwinana and two outlining a system where container trade is shared between Freo and Kwinana.

    The taskforce also didn’t consider Roe 8/9 in its studies, noting early the scuppered corridor wasn’t current government policy, but in announcing the five preferred options, Westport claimed even with the inclusion of the contentious road plans Fremantle would still not have made the shortlist.

    MUA WA deputy secretary Adrian Evans said the union was “as shocked as the rest of the community” at the prospect Fremantle could lose its identity and “130 years of history”.

    “As members of the Westport reference group we also have serious concerns about the process that led to this outcome and are seeking answers,” he said.

    Fremantle Port is believed to have a capacity of 2.1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) a year, but when WA's container trade is set to hit that number is subject to debate.

    Westport forecast a container load of 3.8 million TEU for Perth in 50 years' time, using an annual container growth figure of 3.25 per cent.

    Fremantle currently handles about 700,000 TEU, but questions over how long we've got before capacity have swirled for years; in 2007 a press release from Alannah MacTiernan – then planning and infrastructure minister in the Carpenter government – claimed Freo's "optimal capacity" would be reached by 2015.

    The MUA believes freight efficiencies could handle a substantial increase in TEUs at Fremantle even without road infrastructure upgrades, and it's too soon to lock in plans for a new container port in Kwinana.

    There are also concerns over the impact on Cockburn Sound, with the state’s peak fishing body Recfishwest in a Facebook post declaring it had “serious concerns” environmental considerations of a new port had been overlooked.

    “Our position on this has not changed – critical pink snapper spawning habitat must be protected and family fishing fun must not be compromised,” the post read.

    MUA organiser Ben Lawver said the union’s members were a part of the community who enjoyed Cockburn Sound, and held concerns for the thousands of jobs in Fremantle the working port currently supported.

    “When experts say publicly that Fremantle could comfortable handle trade volumes for a city the size of Sydney – we have to question the process that excludes this option from consideration,” he said.

    In a comment piece published on WAtoday on Monday, Westport independent chair Nicole Lockwood said the strengths of the Kwinana port options were “numerous”.

    “Given its location in Perth’s strategic industrial estate, existing buffers provide protection from residential development, limiting social impacts,” Ms Lockwood said.

    “The extensive land available at Latitude 32 and the nearby industrial estates provide a unique opportunity for businesses to co-locate adjacent to the port.

    “Finally, the Kwinana options have the ability to grow over time and can be designed and built with the latest in sustainability and climate resilience expertise.

  • Finding a new strategy for Western Australia’s ports, Infrastructure Magazine 21/08/2019

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 months ago

    By Rhianna King

    In September 2017, the Westport Taskforce assembled to begin a colossal undertaking: to develop a strategy to guide the supply chains through Western Australia’s ports for the next century.

    As it gears up to release its five shortlisted options, Infrastructure spoke to Westport’s Independent Chair, Nicole Lockwood, about its findings thus far and where the strategy is headed.

    Established in 2017 by the WA Minister for Transport, Rita Saffioti, Westport was tasked with developing a long-term strategy for the state’s freight supply chains. In order to meet growing trade need for WA’s rapidly expanding population, the WA...

    By Rhianna King

    In September 2017, the Westport Taskforce assembled to begin a colossal undertaking: to develop a strategy to guide the supply chains through Western Australia’s ports for the next century.

    As it gears up to release its five shortlisted options, Infrastructure spoke to Westport’s Independent Chair, Nicole Lockwood, about its findings thus far and where the strategy is headed.

    Established in 2017 by the WA Minister for Transport, Rita Saffioti, Westport was tasked with developing a long-term strategy for the state’s freight supply chains. In order to meet growing trade need for WA’s rapidly expanding population, the WA Government understood that its supply chain needed to change.
    Westport needed to select the best option for WA’s supply chain that integrates port, road, rail and intermodal freight transport, while accommodating for the specific capabilities of WA’s three major ports: Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury.

    What makes this project so unique is its scope: Westport needed to create an integrated supply chain across a large footprint to service Western Australia for the next 50 years and beyond. In essence, the undertaking boiled down to a single question: how can WA create the capacity for its freight network to accommodate growth in containers over this timeframe?

    In order to keep the supply chain as cost-effective as possible, Westport’s solutions needed to be located as close as possible to where people live, but not too close as to disrupt citizens’ lives, and to ensure that the growth of urban areas could be blended with the needs for the growth in freight for the benefit of the community.

    Westport: the journey so far

    The Westport Taskforce, a cross-agency, independent project team led by its Chair, Nicole Lockwood, spent all of 2018 conducting extensive interviews and gathering data from stakeholders and the wider WA community.

    Based on these findings, it spent the first half of 2019 working through a list of 25 possible supply chains that would allow WA to grow its network capacity.

    Four of these options centered on Fremantle, four on Bunbury and 17 on Kwinana. This disparity stems from the fact that Kwinana is largely a greenfield site for containers, allowing Westport to try a number of different alternatives, whereas the four options in Fremantle and Bunbury are largely fixed to the port’s pre-existing precincts.

    The Taskforce spent months expanding the 25 options to understand how they would function. Westport tested them through a multi-criteria assessment process, taking into account social, economic, environmental and operational factors, as well as community and amenity impact and social license.
    During this process, the Taskforce considered each option’s economic development opportunities, and their costs to run and maintain. The options were then measured against each other to rank them from one to 25.

    In August, Westport released five shortlisted options that it will then take forward to a second round of analysis. Read Infrastructure’s full overview of the five shortlisted supply chain options here.

    Biggest challenges

    The second round of analysis of these five options will be similar to the first round of multi-criteria assessment, but far more extensive.

    “We’ll build those five options out with a lot more detail, and a lot more granularity than the first round,” Ms Lockwood said. “This will involve understanding the port precincts and how they operate, and establishing a lot more detail around the capital and operating costs.”

    In thinking through the transition from the current situation into the new end strategy, Westport will also have to undertake a more detailed analysis of some of the options’ social and environmental impacts.
    Ms Lockwood said Westport was committed to providing the WA Government with a final recommendation in late 2019.

    “The biggest challenge we have is time, because we want to make sure we’ve got a very robust, high-quality answer for the government by the end of the year. There’s a lot of work to do in a short space of time.”

    In working to this timeframe, Westport will have to point to a number of gaps in knowledge because some of this analytical work will take significant periods of time – including multiple years for certain modelling and assessment tasks.

    However, the nature of a shortlisting process means that, should the government want to proceed with any one of Westport’s options beyond 2019, there is more time to do more detailed work.
    “So it’s not the end, it’s actually just a planning continuum,” Ms Lockwood said.

    It may even be that the Taskforce does not land on one option alone, but rather one preferred option with a secondary alternative. This is because one of the big unknowns in the process is gaining environmental approvals.

    Bunbury Port aerial view Westport

    A commitment to environmental sustainability

    In a Westport survey of community and interest groups from late 2018 to early 2019, 55.3 per cent of respondents listed environmental sustainability as their number one area of interest, well above any other issue. Concurrently, the Westport Strategy has committed to an ISV2.0 rating from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA). The natural environment has therefore emerged at the forefront of debate around the Westport Strategy.

    “Westport is the first masterplanning project nationally that ISCA is looking at rating. ISCA is normally involved in the project delivery phase, so this is quite new for them and for us. Together, we are thinking through what steps to take right at inception to ensure that the message and ethics of sustainability is infused in the project right from the outset.”

    The Taskforce has done this by employing frameworks from the Permanent International Association of Navigational Congresses (PIANC), a global group extensively involved in innovative port planning.
    Westport is following PIANC’s framework, A Guide for Applying Working with Nature to Navigation Infrastructure Projects, which proposes a reversal of traditional planning methods. The planners start with the environmental landscape, consider their infrastructure needs, then plan the infrastructure to accommodate the environment, rather than the other way around.

    “For example, when we developed the 25 options, we did that with a basis of the environmental values first,” Ms Lockwood said.

    “We actually had them mapped, and then looked at where we thought we could locate a port, looking for spaces that weren’t impacted by important environmental areas. Then we built around those.”

    This is combined with ISCA’s frameworks, which promote the engagement model Westport is employing: being open and transparent, having people at the table, and allowing for feedback.

    In addition, as members of Ports Australia, which joined the World Port Sustainability Program in March 2019, Fremantle and Bunbury Ports have the support of the Program’s frameworks, networks and resources.

    Engaging stakeholders

    Embarking on a masterplanning exercise of such magnitude inevitably involves a vast number of community engagement programs. Given how integral containers are to supporting Australians’ quality of life, the Westport Strategy will have wide-ranging impacts on the state and Australia more generally.
    In order to avoid the trap of hasty, top-down planning, Westport has undertaken extensive community consultation to take into account the views of all relevant stakeholders.

    “What we’re doing is planning for a network that is partially owned and operated by government, partially owned and operated by the private sector, and entirely connected to people and their everyday lives,” Ms Lockwood said.

    “So in trying to come up with an answer that everyone thinks is a good one, you really need to have all of those views at the table.”

    Westport’s stakeholder engagement is evidence-based and the Taskforce has taken this approach in order to encourage private sector investment and ensure confidence in the strategy.

    Westport created a reference group, which currently includes over 90 organisations – about 35 local governments, as well as community groups and members from academia.

    This has allowed Westport to continually test its work. While some of the technical work had to be completed by technical experts, the reference group gives Westport the opportunity to understand the different outcomes – how they might be implemented by private sector, and how they might be received by the community, were they to be pursued.

    “Stakeholder management adds a lot of value to our process,” Ms Lockwood said.

    “In some ways, it mitigates risk in the project even though it’s more involved. You’re potentially having numerous difficult conversations, you’re not landing on one answer, and you’re navigating how to deliver it. We’re really on that journey the whole way through.”

    Leveraging old knowledge to inform new thinking

    Community feedback is only one part of the data that the Taskforce must gather and analyse. Another major part of the process involved bringing together decades of previous work.

    The question of the future of WA’s terminals had been posed many times before, however, these discussions usually only related to the ports themselves, not in relation to the whole supply chain. Since a lot of technical reports on road designs, port designs and environmental work was still valid (albeit in need of an update), the Taskforce catalogued and compiled all this previous research, so as not to spend more government funds than necessary.

    The next stage involves consolidating these years of knowledge with new, forward-thinking work.
    “There’s a new landscape now that maybe wasn’t in existence then,” Ms Lockwood said.

    “There are new trends emerging – globalisation and the trends of containers. We’re 50 years into containers being established, so what will the next 50 hold? What’s the future of movement in terms of both road and rail, and how are those modes going to change?

    “In terms of port design, the automation journey around the world is certainly going very quickly. When designing a new port you really need to be thinking about the opportunities those new builds present. So there has to be new work done thinking that through.”

    Collating vast amounts of data

    In order to manage this vast amount of information, the Taskforce built a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database where it can enter all of its information – both past and present. A dedicated team maps all of the outputs produced and layers them, creating sophisticated, interactive resources to guide decision-making.

    All existing data sets across government; detailed data from relevant agencies; environmental assessment work, terrestrial work; and the 25 supply chain options have all been mapped and catalogued into this database.

    “The other critical part is the trade forecasting work we’ve done, because that’s really the growth factor that we need to consider in terms of timing,” Ms Lockwood said.

    “When do we need new infrastructure? So that’s also a component of what they’ve created.”

    In this way, the second stage of multi-criteria assessments of the five shortlisted options will involve two parallel processes – both analytically, crunching numbers and data, and also spatially, mapping the outputs. This will allow the Taskforce to test a given set of questions and then test it using the database.
    “When we finish, we will be able to hand this database to government and it’s got everything built in,” Ms Lockwood said.

    “This means that if the work needs to store for a little while, or if there’s a change in economic circumstances, we’ve not lost all of that work, and it’s actually refreshed a lot of things that have been buried over a long period of time.”

    It also means that as the trade forecasting changes, the WA Government can continue to update the database to understand exactly what the changes mean for trigger points.

    This spatial database will also be updatable into the future. The detailed modelling that will need to be done beyond 2019 – road modelling, environmental impact assessment work and so on – could be built into the platform.

    Finding the best way to guide change

    “Change is inevitable,” Ms Lockwood said.

    “Doing nothing is not an option; there is the requirement to build new infrastructure, as well as optimising what we have. What we’re trying to ensure is that we get the balance right between any new impacts and maintaining amenity.

    “I think Perth and Southwest Australia are at a tipping point, where we’re growing to the size of some of the larger cities around the world and that means a different way of living. People’s expectations need to change about what’s realistic if they want to continue to receive the services that they expect – particularly around things like online shopping and other current trends.

    “The way we want to live our lives has a cost associated with it, and that may mean a slightly different way of running our freight sector than people have seen in the past.”

    The ultimate aim of the Westport Strategy is to ensure its final recommendation to the WA Government will be the best option for the state, and safeguard quality of life for decades to come.