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The State Government has announced that it is investigating the feasibility of moving Victoria’s vital car import and exports from Melbourne to the Port of Geelong. A shift would have many positives for the local Geelong economy, but a number of factors need to be considered during the feasibility period.
Ports Minister Denis Napthine says the feasibility study will be completed at the end of the year, and nominated easing of traffic congestion in Melbourne’s west, increased land availability at the Port of Melbourne and the creation of about 1000 jobs in Geelong as reasons why the move could be a successful one.
A range of bodies will be approached to have their say, including shipping companies, car importers and exporters, the relevant port authorities and local councils.
VECCI welcomes the extensive consultation process and will be making official submissions at the appropriate time, but urges the Government to consider a number of factors before they make a decision on relocation.
It is likely that shipping channels would have to be deepened and/or widened in Corio Bay to cater for 24 hour car carrier access to the Port of Geelong. While any environmental impact of potential channel deepening would be minimal, the Geelong shipping channels consist of rock, not sand, and thus would be harder to drill into.
The Geelong area is prone to fierce, gusty winds that could potentially be dangerous for car carrying vessels with a high centre of gravity.
Additionally, it may cost car carriers more to transport their cars to Geelong for shipping, although they are of course best placed to answer that question themselves.
On the positive side, Geelong already possesses a ‘roll on, roll off’ facility and space for the required parking lot, and has a strong automotive presence, being home to the Ford manufacturing plant.
There are strong road and rail connections between Melbourne and Geelong to utilise, the regional job aspect is attractive, and such a move could free up Webb Dock for containers.
No doubt these issues and more will be discussed during the official consultation process, and we look forward to participating and hearing the results.
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