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Port plan reloaded – Newcastle Herald


20 Apr, 2011 04:00 AM

NEW Ports Minister Duncan Gay has not ruled out a coal terminal at the Mayfield former steelworks site after meetings with stakeholders, including mining magnate and loader proponent Nathan Tinkler’s camp.

The fate of the site may be decided in a review of the state’s port strategy.

A spokesman for Mr Gay said he had ‘‘met all stakeholders to receive briefings on the latest developments’’ in relation to the 90-hectare Mayfield site, which was a subject of controversy during the election campaign.

The Newcastle Herald understands discussions between the Anglo Ports and Newcastle Stevedores consortium and the Newcastle Port Corporation about a $600million private sector development are set to resume following the change of government.

The consortium proposal would entail multiple uses and various cargo for the site, including a container terminal.

The discussions stalled under the Labor government, which former Newcastle MP Jodi McKay claimed was the result of forces within the government working to scrap plans for a promised container terminal in favour of Mr Tinkler’s terminal.

A Treasury briefing leaked to the Herald in February called into question the viability of containers through Newcastle in light of the potential capacity of Port Botany.

Despite the resumption of discussions about the consortium proposal, a spokesman for Mr Gay said no decision had been made.

Mr Tinkler owns a stake in Buildev, the company contracted to redevelop the 60-hectare Intertrade site behind the port land.

His listed company Aston Resources plans to mine coal from Gunnedah from 2014 but will struggle to find space at existing coal-loaders.

While his loader proposal, which has yet to be formally submitted, has drawn an angry response from some inner-city residents who fear more coal dust, the Port Corporation’s container terminal proposal is facing fresh criticisms.

RTA and NSW Transport Department submissions lodged with the Department of Planning last month questioned whether the Port Corporation had underestimated the amount of freight that would have to be moved from the port by road, particularly given the coal industry’s dominance of the rail network.

In another submission, Buildev argued the port corporation had failed to justify its trade forecasts underpinning the proposal, to place it in the context of statewide shipping or explain whether there would be adequate demand for a Newcastle container terminal.

Buildev questioned whether containers would interfere with the port’s significant coal trade.

It comes amid revelations that Port Kembla has failed to meet a target for 20per cent of freight to be moved by rail, with a report blaming insufficient trade volumes for making rail transport unviable and putting the pressure on roads.

The strategic role of Newcastle is up for consideration in a review of the NSW Ports strategy, which Labor began

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