Muddy waters: govt agencies slam Port Kembla harbour expansion plans

Key NSW government agencies have issued scathing comments on a plan to quadruple the capacity of Port Kembla's outer harbour, saying it lacks adequate detail about traffic, rail infrastructure, and noise and air pollution.

In April, the long-term tenants of Port Kembla, NSW Ports Consortium, revealed plans to allow super-sized vessels to access the first completed terminal and push an extra 12 million tonnes of bulk cargo through the port each year.

The proposal involves deeper harbour dredging, room for an extra 170 ships each year and plans to allow nine extra daily trains to transport the increased cargo.

The Environment Protection Authority has said it cannot support the proposal as it lacked detail about noise and air pollution, which would both exceed acceptable levels under the expansion.

According to the EPA's submission, NSW Ports has suggested a number of "significant mitigation measures", including the erection of a 420-metre long, eight-metre high barrier to reduce rail noise.

However, the EPA's Illawarra manager, Peter Bloem, said there was "very limited detail" in the plan, leaving the watchdog with little confidence in the consortium's ability to reduce long-term noise to an appropriate level.

"It is not clear whether the measures are practical or feasible for achieving the required outcomes, or whether such a large barrier would be acceptable to the community," Mr Bloem said.

Similarly, Roads and Maritime Services "objects to the application in its current form" as it fails to identify an acceptable plan for managing traffic delays on Old Port Road.

Southern region network and safety manager Adam Berry said the absence of a traffic impact study meant the RMS could not make an "informed comment".

"RMS considers that other key stakeholders, such as Wollongong council, potentially affected business owners and the community cannot make an informed comment on the proposed modification in its current form," Mr Berry said in his submission.

"The proponent should be required to provide a clear proposal for managing the impact to Old Port Road to assist the Minister for Planning in her decision-making role."

Two Department of Primary Industries arms - the Office of Water and Fisheries NSW - also lodged concerns, with the latter stating it did not support the project as further information on ship movements was required.

The Office of Water noted excavation during the expansion was likely to unearth groundwater contaminated by heavy metals, meaning further investigations were needed before the plans went ahead.

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