THE Federal Government has called for public comment on the controversial proposal to move Fremantle Port’s container trade to Kwinana.

This is the first stage of assessment under the EPBC Act, Australia’s Federal environmental legislation.

The proposed construction of the new Westport has angered conservationists concerned about the long-term health of Cockburn Sound’s rich seagrass meadows.

This round of public comment is to assess whether Westport’s proposal should be assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Public comment opened on 28 June and closes on 12 July.

Westport completed the State level referral process in March of this year with the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) determining that Westport will undergo WA’s highest level of assessment – Public Environmental Review.

The Westport website acknowledges that building a new port and related infrastructure will have environmental impacts in the short-term, but it says once the new port is operational it will be ‘net-positive’, meaning the local environment will be better off in the long-term.

Westport has established a three-year partnership with the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) to better understand the current state of the ecosystem and the potential impact of development.

WAMSI is undertaking a comprehensive research program to fill in gaps about Cockburn Sound’s ecosystem.

“Marine research is improving our understanding of ways to build resilience in Cockburn Sound and will help inform our Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Importantly, research findings will also help increase the effectiveness of future restoration and mitigation activities, contributing to Westport’s goal of achieving a nature positive port.”