Response to Peter Brown’s (Glen Forbes) ‘Port could be win/win’:
Thanks for putting your views forward on the Hastings Port Development in last week’s Sentinel-Times. A healthy debate ensures all facts are laid out for all to see.
However, I must take strong issue with some of the statements you have made. First up, Western Port does not have “deep water” all the way up to Hastings. As someone whom states he “went to sea in the 60s”, surely you can read a marine chart.
The channel from Cowes up to Hastings was dredged back in the 60s to 14m and will have to be deepened to at least 18m and possibly widened to allow the “new breed” of container ships into the port.
Next up, “easy dredging” may work in a bay with benign tides, which of course Western Port does not have.
The extent of dredging required will result in the tides acting like a giant orbital sander. Back and forth twice a day until coastline erosion such as not seen in Western Port since the new San Remo bridge was built will be the result. (Come for a walk with me some day on the San Remo back beach “rock wall” and I’ll show you where 50 metres of sand and scrub used to be. A “scale model”, if ever I have seen one.)
Yes, many container ports around the world have been moved to new locations. But how many have been moved to such an economically and environmentally sensitive area such as Western Port?
Economic, due to Bass Coast/Phillip Island being the “second most tourism reliant economy in the country” (Mr Fergus Cameron, President of Destination Phillip Island, in these pages some weeks back). To this, we must add the millions spent in Bass Coast on recreational fishing each year.
Environmentally, for the very reasons Mr Ferguson made the above statement and that is, the world famous ecotourism attractions such as the penguin parade. Making Hastings the “biggest container port in the Southern Hemisphere” (Victorian Freight Strategy 2013) will simply destroy the above and the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.
If you do own a Western Port marine chart and via your seagoing experience perhaps you can enlighten us all as to the following.
* How you anticipate the “biggest container port etc etc” will fit into an area up at Hastings with natural depth of only 10m and in an area no more than about four nautical miles long and about three nautical miles wide, before these dimensions mean a mudbank is encountered off French Island. Remember, these new ships are twice the length of the MCG oval and four times higher than the San Remo bridge.
* Given the above and even with modern “gizmos” like bow thrusters, how much sea-room do you think the projected eight monster ships a day will need? Their turning circles in a winter gale and a strong tide, even with tug assistance would be huge. The tugs would also run out of sea-room long before they did. Given the above, how do you see them all fitting in without dredging Western Port to death?
Last but by no means certainly least, I do heartily recommend you type “expansion of Webb Dock” into your browser. The Port of Melbourne is spending a squillion upgrading it to take even more imported car carrying ships and a major expansion for containers called ‘Webb Dock East’ for container ships. So to state this proposal was “canned” is factually incorrect.
Kevin Chambers, The Gurdies.