06 Apr, 2012 08:21 AM
ONE of the architects of the plan for a container terminal in the Port of Newcastle says a rail freight bypass west of Newcastle is an absolute necessity.
Greg Cameron, BHP’s Newcastle manager of external affairs between 1994 and 1999, said yesterday the Hunter public needed to be aware of plans to massively expand Port Botany at the expense of Newcastle.
Mr Cameron said Botany handled 2million containers last year and would reach its approved capacity of 3.2million containers in about 2020.
Former premier Bob Carr promised Newcastle would be developed once Botany was full but the Sydney Ports Corporation was pushing the present government to lift its capacity to 7million containers.
This would all but kill any plan to diversify Newcastle away from coal.
‘‘The terminal project was a clear winner in 1998, which is why the state government took control of the steelworks site, and it remains so today,’’ Mr Cameron said.
He said a Newcastle container terminal needed a rail freight bypass to stack up financially, but the Fassifern to Hexham link had other benefits, especially the removal of freight trains from the Adamstown line.
In October 2000, the minister assisting the premier on Hunter development, Richard Face, told Parliament the Newcastle terminal would be ‘‘an important step in achieving the long-term objective of [Newcastle] being recognised as the import/export gateway for the east coast of Australia’’.