VICTORIAN Ports Minister David Hodgett last week announced a major milestone for the Port of Hastings expansion, with the project being declared under the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009.
The Port of Hastings expansion is one of several major transport projects to be declared under the Act, including East West Link, and the move paves the way for the planning approvals process to commence.
"Planning for our economic future is critical and the Coalition Government's investment in the Port of Hastings expansion will translate into the creation of thousands of ongoing Victorian jobs for decades, while retaining our position as the nation's freight and logistics capital," Mr Hodgett said.
The Minister said that without investing to meet future demand, Victoria will reach container capacity by the mid-2020s, even with the benefit of current expansion projects at the Port of Melbourne.
"This is why the Port of Hastings expansion is so critical to preserving our export and manufacturing industries and supporting the future liveability and economic growth of the state," he added.
"By declaring the Port of Hastings expansion under the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act, the Coalition Government is sending a clear message that we are committed to developing the project and will get on with seeking the necessary approvals and undertaking critical studies to progress this project through the planning approvals process."
Member for Hastings Neale Burgess said project declaration provides the local community with certainty, ensuring an assessment and approval process for the development of the port and guaranteeing their feedback will be a critical part of this process.
"Project declaration is the first milestone in the assessment and approvals process under the Act. It ensures a full and independent evaluation of the project will be undertaken, one which considers the needs and feedback of the community," Mr Burgess said.
"This project represents a transformational change that will provide a major boost to the social and economic wellbeing of Hastings, the Mornington Peninsula and surrounding communities while also ensuring Victoria's rightful position as Australia's leading container hub."
Port of Hastings Development Authority CEO Mike Lean also welcomed the declaration.
"This announcement signals the beginning of the next three to four years of port planning, conceptual design and comprehensive study of the social, economic and environmental effects associated with developing the state's next container port," Mr Lean said.
"In particular, we are acutely aware of the unique and significant environmental aspects of Western Port, ranging from the internationally-recognised Ramsar wetlands site through to the Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve. Understanding the existing conditions in the Western Port marine environment is the first step in this process.
"We are equally committed to having timely and open conversations with local communities and other stakeholders to ensure that every point of view is heard in this systematic and comprehensive assessment process," Mr Lean said.