A PERMANENT port location on Norfolk Island has emerged as the biggest concern the community has about shipping to the island.

A public consultation has revealed several common concerns about long-term shipping and freight services.

Last year, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts invited the Norfolk Island community and businesses to share their thoughts on shipping to the island. A report responding to the feedback was published this week.

Submissions highlighted the high cost of sea freight, reliability, overall shipping volume, a backlog of freight, port location and shifting to containerisation as some of the biggest issues.

In response to the concern of a permanent port location, the government said there is “no single port location on Norfolk Island that can easily serve all needs”.

It said each potential location (Cascade Bay, Ball Bay, Kingston and three western locations) all have challenges including weather exposure or lack of existing infrastructure.

Adopting containers for future sea freight cargo handling was also one of the most commonly raised issues.

A majority of the container-related submissions were in favour of moving to the use of containers for better security of goods, more efficient cargo handling and alignment with global practices.

In the report, minister for regional development, local government and territories Kristy McBain said the challenges of Norfolk Island’s remote location had conspired to reduce the flow of sea cargo levels “well below” what is needed to sustain the community.

“The detailed community contributions have allowed me to gain a strong appreciation of the key areas of interest, concern, and impacts of shipping on the community – including how the government could support the development of ports infrastructure,” Ms McBain said in a statement on the report.

“Some submissions set out quite detailed infrastructure development recommendations, and most were in favour of facilities to allow vessel berthing and container handling,” she said.

“We will carefully consider the advice and provide updates on our future infrastructure options.”

The department of infrastructure, transport, regional development, communications and the arts said the submissions would inform long-term investments in a sustainable sea freight service to the island.