Fremantle will remain as the State's primary mixed-cargo and container port for at least the next 20 to 30 years under a new strategy for future port development announced today.
Transport Minister Pam Beggs said the strategy meant the State Government was fully committed to Fremantle's inner harbour as the centre of port activity in the foreseeable future.
But the Government also was taking a longer-term approach in instigating a review of port and land transport possibilities in the Kwinana/Naval Base area beyond the year 2020.
Mrs Beggs said the strategy was in line with the recommendations of the Future Port Options Auxiliary Study released last year for public comment.
The strategy also would involve exploring alternatives to Co-operative Bulk Handling's existing road receival terminal for grain at North Quay and a review of Bunbury as a general cargo and container port.
"The Future Port Options Auxiliary Study identified Fremantle's inner harbour as capable of handling projected port trade for the next 30 years," Mrs Beggs said.
"But it also recognised that after that time, the capacity of road transport access to the Port may severely constrain further expansion of trade.
"Because of that, there is a need to take a long-term visionary approach and act now to identify the land that might be needed for a port to be developed elsewhere.
"Other studies aligned to the auxiliary report had pin-pointed three main potential port sites.
"One of these, Catherine Point, has not been accepted because it would clash with development concepts for the Coogee area.
"A second site, North Mole, was excluded because of difficulties with road transport access.
"The third site was Naval Base/Kwinana which already has secure rail reserves which could be used to open up rail access to a future port."
Mrs Beggs said the study into Naval Base/Kwinana and the potential role of Bunbury as a container and general cargo port, would be carried out by the Department of Transport, Fremantle Port Authority and Department of State Development.
"This study will not only identify the land and transport needs for a port, it also will look at ways of triggering further investigations should there be a more immediate use for that land," she said.
"This will give planners in the future the opportunity to reassess the use of the land without shutting off the option of a port."
Mrs Beggs emphasised that the development of a Naval Base/Kwinana port was a long-term exercise. It would not happen for at least 30 years.
"We need to act now in the interests of Western Australia's future economic development," she said.
"For example, it is difficult to make a definite judgment on just what will be needed 30 years down the track.
"In the year 2020, ports may not depend so much on container technology which by then will be 50 years old."
Mrs Beggs said CBH's grain facility on North Quay was a road receival point that presented difficulties for improving rail links and the development of landbridging cargo between the west and east coasts.
The terms of reference for grain terminal study would be drawn up in consultation with CBH.