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A PLAN to turn Port Melbourne's Webb Dock into the city's next major container terminal should eventually include expanding the dock into Port Phillip Bay, lobbyist and former Labor minister David White will tell a conference at Parliament House this morning.
The Port of Melbourne Corporation is expediting plans to bring large volumes of container shipping to Webb Dock, next to the Yarra River mouth in Port Melbourne.
The State Government is investigating whether Webb Dock - which now handles car imports and exports, general cargo and some Tasmania-bound containers - can start taking large-scale container shipping by 2013.
This would mean thousands of extra truck movements a day on bayside streets, causing great concern for Port Phillip Council.
Restoration of a disused train line that once linked Webb Dock to the rest of Victoria was on the agenda, but the port's chief executive said last week refurbishing the line would come later.
Mr White, speaking on behalf of the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry at its biennial infrastructure conference, will say consideration should be given to extending the container port out into Port Phillip Bay.
This should not happen until 2020, when the volume of goods coming to Melbourne ports would necessitate starting to send container ships to the Port of Hastings. Extending Webb Dock would mean more goods could continue being shipped to Melbourne before Hastings was needed as a container port, Mr White will say.
Port Phillip mayor Frank O'Connor said there were concerns about additional truck traffic that would be generated by the port's development. The council is lobbying for the rail line to help keep truck numbers at a manageable level, he said.
Fellow councillor Janet Bolitho said the council would push hard to make sure the rail line - which must include an expensive rail bridge over the Yarra - was eventually restored.
But there was no council opposition to Webb Dock becoming a major container terminal, as there had always been shipping in and around the Port Melbourne area, she said.
''Our number one interest is in creating a buffer between our residential areas and the port.''
Melbourne's port is the nation's biggest, with 2 million shipping containers moving through it each year. It has grown by at least 5 per cent a year for the past decade, causing conflict with residents, and problems for motorists who must deal with thousands of extra trucks on city streets.
By 2035, it is expected the amount of goods coming into the port will have quadrupled to 8 million containers a year.
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