PORT master planning was at the top of the agenda at a PIANC Australia seminar this week, which brought together infrastructure professionals from around the country to talk shop.
Master planning can allow ports and port managers to look ahead and make a roadmap for development taking into account as many factors as possible.
During his presentation, GHD executive advisor Richard Hill said one of the main functions of a master plan was communication.
“We need consistent assumptions, we need consistent data, so it’s important that these plans are communicated, and they’re endorsed and they are to be shared,” he said.
Mid West Ports Authority is in the midst of a master-planning process for the Port of Geraldton and the Port Authority’s senior projects engineer Peter Duplex was on hand to discuss the process so far.
He said the process needed to be credible and measured.
“What we’re going to avoid doing is backing winners,” he said.
“We’re not going to say, ‘well the future of development is based on this particular client, or that particular mine’.
“But, on the other hand, we’re going to avoid groundless blue-sky scenarios.”
Mr Duplex said community consultation was an important part of the early stages of the planning project, and the port carried out a pre-planning survey.
“The survey was really beneficial,” he said.
“We had it open for about seven and a half weeks and we got about 230 responses.”
The survey had five questions, all with sub-elements, and Mr Duplex said the idea was to get an idea of what was important to people around the port.
“We wanted to get port stakeholders, we wanted to get community, we wanted to get employees, we wanted to get the city; as many people as we could to give us a little buy-in early in that process,” he said of the survey.
“They felt like they were actually doing something, they were part of the process.”
With the results of the survey, the Port Authority created a plot, mapping out what the organisation thinks is important, and what the stakeholders think is important, and this, Mr Duplex said, gave the Port Authority a starting point for the planning process.
“You get a little bit nervous going into something like that to see what your going to be told,” he said.
“We were expecting everything from ‘you fools, don’t spend a cent; save it all and go to Oakajee’, to ‘hey look, ports are smelly and dirty, we’re in a pristine environment, we don’t want anything what you’re doing in Geraldton’.
“I think the overwhelming answer for us was the community recognise the importance, significance, the relevance of the port, but they’re saying, hey, just get it right. So that’s our task.”
PIANC, or the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, organised the seminar, which continues on Friday and wraps up with its annual general meeting.