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Shipping boom poses headaches for expansion of Port Botany – Sydney Morning Herald

By Darren Goodsir
December 13, 2004

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When the Port Botany container facility was planned it was designed to accommodate four terminals and up to 4 million container truck movements a year.

It takes about 1.2 million container loads a year, but its capacity of about 2 million loads is likely to be reached between 2010 and 2015.

After opening in 1976 planned expansions were thwarted by the building of the third runway at Sydney Airport.

Sydney’s container traffic has risen by 7.4 per cent since 1970, with 3 million containers – nearly three times the current volume – expected by 2021.

Last year the Premier, Bob Carr, announced a ports growth plan to seek solutions on dealing with the surge, and the Sydney Ports Corporation suggested a third terminal was an essential interim measure.

The papers show that by 2021, if a new terminal at Port Botany is approved, an expanded port at Newcastle will also be under construction, alleviating some of the stress on Sydney. However, it may require a new freight line from the north to avoid trucks clogging the F3 freeway.

More than 90 per cent of containers are delivered to warehouses or businesses within 40 kilometres of Port Botany.

About half the exported containers are packed at sites within the same area.

Disturbingly, the trend of importers is to load their freight in new 40-foot (12-metre) containers – requiring bigger trucks – although most exporters are still opting for the standard 20-foot bins.

In the past few years most warehouses have moved from near the port to the western suburbs, particularly at Wetherill Park, in the shadow of the M7 Westlink, the 40-kilometre highway due to open in 2006.

Expanding Port Botany’s capacity is subject to a commission of inquiry, which reconvened in October.

A separate parliamentary inquiry has also taken evidence on the expected impact of an expansion, especially on roads near Botany and Sydney Airport.

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