Review of Activity

Among the issues which were discussed by the Council during 2015-16 were:

 

  1. Strategic Land Use Planning and Policy

The protection of freight corridors and precincts continues to be a major focus for the Council. There is an increasing realisation at both national and local levels that Government policy needs to achieve a better balance between freight efficiency and community amenity. The Council’s activities in this area during the year included:

  • Detailed input, based on original research, to the Government’s review of State Planning Policy 5.4, with a particular emphasis on better arrangements with regard to freight rail.
  • Substantial submissions to a number of Government agencies on issues such as protecting the Western Trade Coast, re-establishing the Kwinana Loop Rail line and planning for an inter-modal terminal at West Mundijong.
  • Responses to development proposals before the WA Planning Commission and Local Government bodies (such as those included in the Forrestfield North District Structure Plan) that have the potential to compromise freight activities.
  • Ongoing liaison with Government Departments and agencies on industry’s position in respect of broad-based planning issues (such as the adequate supply of industrial land).
  • Continued discussion with the land use planning community to raise the profile of freight.
  1. Road Pricing for Freight

The Council has done no further research on the issue as the matter is now well understood and the need for reform is well recognised. The challenge is now one of implementation and assisting Governments make the necessary decisions. Discussions during the year with the Australian Logistics Council and Infrastructure Australia were useful in that respect.

Working case studies of a new approach to road pricing will be necessary and, in that respect, delays to the introduction of a heavy vehicle charge as part of the Perth Freight Link project were disappointing. However, the Council was fully involved with, and supportive of, the road pricing initiative underpinning that project.

The Council continues to press for other opportunities to demonstrate the new approach in practice.

  1. Food Export Supply Chains

The State Government has recognised the importance of food exports in the post mineral resources-boom economy by establishing a dedicated team within the Department of State Development to progress the issue. The Council has been assisting the team on specific opportunities and also with more general advice on industry contacts. Related discussions have not reached a point requiring detailed analysis as yet. However, that will be required in the coming year as the profile of the issue continues to increase.

  1. Freight Rail Noise

The bulk of the Council’s time and resourcing on this significant issue across the year has been focussed on inputting to the Government’s review of State Planning Policy 5.4 with a view to better definition of residential set-backs and building materials in the vicinity of freight rail corridors in undeveloped or green-fields suburbs. Significant original research has been conducted by the Council and a highly detailed submission was made to the Technical Working Group advising the Department of Planning on the issue.

However, community complaints about freight rail noise in developed or brown-fields suburbs, cannot be addressed by land use planning policy instruments such as SPP 5.4 and therefore require a more operational approach which identifies and addresses on-rail noise sources. The Department of Transport has given the Council responsibility to progress the issue. Following a key industry workshop attended by all industry and Government stake-holders, an Industry Working Committee is being established which will commence detailed assessment and planning shortly. Tasks will include establishing a single complaints contact point, procedures for the ongoing mapping of hot-spots, community consultation, statistical analysis of recorded complaints, examination of noise sources and a targeted industry-supported programme of remediation.

Based on experience elsewhere, it is likely that this programme will include initiatives such as re-profiling poorly maintained wheels, modification of selected wagon bogie types, track lubrication, locomotive speed reduction, minimising the use of train horns and any other means of addressing identified freight rail noise. This initiative will take on greater focus in the coming year as arrangements are put in place to identify, assess and address freight rail noise at source.

  1. Truck Technology

This has not been a priority project for the Council during 2015-16. New truck technology is evolving rapidly and its adoption by the road transport industry is encouraged by the many operational efficiencies that result. This is already occurring in the long distance and port sectors of the industry particularly. Main Roads WA is monitoring truck technology progress and is developing a number of policies to encourage further take-up. The Council is assisting with this process. Various tax incentives to encourage new technology have also been discussed with industry, as a result of which, the Council made related representations to the Commonwealth during the year.

  1. Truck Productivity at Fremantle Port

Extensive work that has been carried out on truck productivity at Fremantle Port because the issue of road access to the Port underpins the need for major infrastructure projects such as Perth Freight Link and policy decisions such as the timing of new facilities in the Outer Harbour.

Some progress has been made but more will be required if there is to be a long-term future for the Inner Harbour as a working port without unacceptable community reaction to trucks. It is unclear at this stage as to whether adequate improvement is possible without some form of Government intervention to encourage greater productivity.

The Council has spent some time in discussion with Fremantle Ports and with the road transport industry on the issue and now has an enhanced understanding of it. Prior to any form of intervention being considered, it will be necessary to define the extent of resulting economic benefits. This is a future research project for the Council.

Final Government positions on the Perth Freight Link and the establishment of new facilities in the Outer Harbour are also fundamental considerations.

Other Areas of Activity

It is important to recognise that the Council’s value does not flow purely from the project work that appears on the Work Programme. Other key activities important to members include:

  • Representing industry views in a wide variety of forums and discussions.
  • Providing liaison opportunities between members, especially industry/Government interaction.
  • Ensuring that information important to members’ operations is regularly discussed.
  • Maintaining networks, otherwise unavailable to Government.
  • Raising the profile of freight with policy advisors and implementers, especially those unfamiliar with freight such as the planning community.