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Threat to Sydney’s remaining deep water docks
Yet again the public has been given the mushroom treatment
about why some of Sydney Harbour’s vital ports and marine
infrastructure on prime harbourside land around the inner city Bays
Precinct will soon disappear. Key maritime industries are concerned
about its full-scale commercial and residential development.
They accuse UrbanGrowth, the state government’s agency
responsible for the planned development that is slated to begin
in 2017, of quietly nurturing plans to place multi-storey residential
and commercial towers on Glebe Island, where the bulk handling
wharves are situated.
The area could be hugely lucrative as a development site for the
state government, as nearly all the land is publicly owned. Located
to the west of Anzac Bridge, the Bays Precinct comprises White Bay,
Rozelle Bay, Blackwattle Bay and Johnstons Bay; 5.5kms of prime
waterfront close the city’s CBD. The 80 hectares and 94 hectares of
water has been described by NSW Premier Mike Baird as “wasteland”
... but for the commercial and recreational businesses that call this
mostly government owned land home, it is anything but.
They highlight the huge environmental cost of the potential
loss of deep-water ports at Glebe Island. And they flag the danger
of overlooking the vital role that smaller maritime operators play
in maintaining and building harbour infrastructure such as new
ferry wharves. Without marine delivery into port facilities in Sydney
Harbour, an additional 5,000 truck movements every week will be
added to congestion on major roads and highways.
They warn that “current plans for the Bays Precinct
redevelopment may extinguish port capability in Sydney without
direct consultation with port users or genuine assessment of the
As boaters, according to the
Boating Industry Association’s Alan
Barrett, we are going to have to accept
that activation of the Bays will bring
new development, activity, and life
to the precinct.
“But, these must be compatible
with users who are critically reliant on deep water access, maritime
infrastructure, and a sheltered location. These attributes of the Bays
can be found nowhere else in modern Sydney – there is nowhere
else to go for what remains of the working harbour,” Barrett said.
Sydney Harbour’s greatest charm, apart from its extraordinary
natural beauty, is that it is a working port, with passenger ships,
oil tankers, tugs, ferries, fishing boats, fire boats and naval vessels
all using the harbour, along with marinas and slipways, yachts,
cruisers and excursion boats.
Already much waterfront industry, large and small, has given way
to residential development. Traditional port operations, which are
a part of the vitality of Sydney Harbour, are under ever increasing
threat from major redevelopment schemes that are tearing a hole
in the city’s heart.
Most of the fascination of our port is its constant activity,
its variety and its colour. We don’t want more high-rise towers
crowding our harbourside. We want Sydney’s maritime identity to
be preserved in its everyday activities.
It’s hard to find a single person in the boating industry in
favour of Urban Growth’s plans to shift maritime industry out of
Sydney Harbour and to sell the harbourside land for commercial
h Robin Copeland
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