INFRASTRUCTURE Victoria has identified Bay West as the preferred location for a new container port once the Port of Melbourne reaches capacity of 8 million TEU containers around 2055, saying the site was also well-suited to becoming Melbourne's future port in the longer term.
Infrastructure Victoria has provided the advice to the State Government in response to a request from the Special Minister of State last year for independent advice on when to invest in container port capacity and whether a second container port should be located at Hastings or Bay West.
There are three key elements to Infrastructure Victoria's advice to government:
- Capacity at Victoria's existing commercial ports should be optimised, having regard to social and environmental factors, before any investment in a second major container port;
- A new container port will not be required until capacity at the Port of Melbourne reaches approximately 8 million TEU, which is likely to be around 2055; and
- Bay West is the preferred location for a second major container port.
Infrastructure Victoria Chief Executive Officer, Michel Masson, said Bay West was preferred over Hastings because it had strong transport, land use, environmental and amenity advantages.
"Bay West has good transport connections and few land use conflicts. It is the optimal location for most of Victoria's exporters as it would help keep their supply chain costs down, which is important to ensure Victoria's ongoing competitiveness," Mr Masson said.
"While achieving the necessary environmental approvals and outcomes will be complex, it is likely this would be even more challenging at Hastings.
"This assessment has been made in light of new evidence and a direct comparison of all the available options – something which has never been done before," Mr Masson said.
While current analysis and projections indicate a second container port is unlikely to be required for many years, Infrastructure Victoria has recommended some immediate actions to protect the Bay West location for future port use, including land reservation and transport corridor protection.
"We have also recommended continuous monitoring of environmental conditions in Port Phillip Bay because the community told us how important it is to understand and protect the environment," Mr Masson said.
Infrastructure Victoria's advice is not binding but is intended to assist the government with ports planning and investment decisions. The advice was provided to government along with all technical reports and feedback from the consultation program.
"Feedback from stakeholders and the community was critical to the development of our advice and we thank everyone who made a submission or attended a workshop or community drop-in session," Mr Masson said.
The State Government welcomed the advice from Infrastructure Victoria, adding that it will now consider its recommendations and advice and will respond as part of its Freight Strategy to be released later this year.