BUILDING an outer harbour in Kwinana presents a “high risk” to Cockburn Sound’s penguins, dolphins and snapper, according to a new government report.
The report was produced by the sustainability and environmental arm of the Westport Taskforce to help it form a decision on whether the state’s trade needs are best served by a new outer harbour or by expanding either Fremantle or Bunbury ports.
Kwinana scored significantly worse than either Fremantle or Bunbury in the assessment, with 17 areas identified as “high risk – unclear whether residual impacts can be contained to within acceptable levels”.
Bunbury had 11 high risk areas, while expanding Fremantle would pose only low to moderate environmental or social risks.
Other high risk concerns in Kwinana included seagrass habitats, bush forever sites, threatened native plants and wildlife, the impact on commercial and recreational fishing, Aboriginal heritage, and maintaining a high quality water source if Perth was to get a second desalination plant.
“In summary, this preliminary report advises that the environmental implications of potential future development at Kwinana and Bunbury may include significant impacts on environmental and social values,” the report said.
“It is important to note that while a number of these risks will require more detailed investigation, it is not suggested at this point that significant impacts cannot be avoided, appropriately mitigated and/or offset.
“’Fatal flaws’ with respect to port-related development in any of the three areas of interest were therefore not identified.”
The report did not look into the environmental or social risks associated with expanding Fremantle’s road network to cope with a major expansion, saying there was too much uncertainty around the various options.
At a forum attended by about 500 people last Wednesday, the Maritime Union of Australia repeated its claim Fremantle’s port could be doubled in size without the need for any road upgrades by improving the efficiency of container movements, increasing rail freight levels and expanding the port’s operating hours so there are fewer trucks in peak hour traffic.
by STEVE GRANT