19 May 2020
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA), Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) and Shipping Australia Limited (SAL) say the NSW Government has failed to address the concerns of the freight industry and local residents in its response to submissions received on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and draft Major Development Plan (MDP) for Sydney Gateway.
The response admits that heavy vehicles travelling between Australia’s largest empty container facility the Cooks River Intermodal Terminal (CRIT) and Port Botany will continue to use local residential streets through Mascot. Despite the clear concerns of industry and local residents’ groups, the response fails to provide any clear solution.
The response also claims that “Transport has been working with the freight industry throughout 2019 to further consider dedicated heavy vehicle access onto and off the project at Canal Road”. Although there have been discussions, industry feels that Roads and Maritime Services (now Transport for NSW) has continually failed to address these matters in good faith. This response merely strengthens the impression that the serious concerns of industry and residents are being brushed aside.
When Sydney Gateway was first proposed several years ago, the design included ramps to service CRIT. Ramps at Canal Road will remove at least 1,600 truck movements a day from local roads – enhancing safety, reducing congestion and improving community amenity in an area that is increasingly popular for residential developments. In fact, close to one quarter (23 per cent) of all submissions received by Government expressed concern at the effect removing ramps at Canal Road would have for businesses and residents.
Removing the ramps from the project in an attempt to reduce costs is a short-sighted move that significantly diminishes the potential freight benefits of the Gateway project and flies in the face of industry and community concern. Moreover, it will effectively isolate the nation’s largest empty container park from this new major port road artery, and condemns local Mascot residents to ongoing truck noise, safety and emission risks.
The Government’s response makes a number of flawed assumptions around container volumes travelling to and from the west and south-west of Sydney and the options for additional empty container park capacity. Although that region will play a vital role in helping manage Sydney’s growing freight task, CRIT’s proximity to the port means it will always be a critical facility for many logistics operators and shipping lines servicing Port Botany that cannot be replicated elsewhere.
Essentially rendering CRIT an ‘island’ the middle of this major road infrastructure project and denying its users direct access is both illogical and irresponsible.
To claim that ‘modelling’ does not support construction of these ramps is disingenuous, given that the original modelling undertaken to assess the ramps included passenger vehicles.
As far as industry is aware, no modelling has been done to assess the efficacy of dedicated ramps for the exclusive use of heavy vehicles, nor the benefits to the freight industry and total port supply chain.
At very least, such modelling needs to be undertaken by the NSW Government before any credible conclusion about the viability of dedicated ramps for heavy vehicles at Canal Road can be reached.
We call on the NSW Government to undertake this modelling as a matter of urgency – and to share the results with industry and with local residents.