Local opposition to plan for huge Lara intermodal terminal

Geelong council determined to see 747ha transport hub built

By Rob McKay | July 28, 2011

In a situation not unlike that related to the proposed Moorebank intermodal terminal in Sydney, local opposition is mobilising against the planned Lara Intermodal Freight Activity Centre (LIFAC).

While the Lara and Little River Rural Action Group appears modest in size and has so far garnered only local media interest, its concerns echo those of Moorebank residents worried about a huge increase in truck and other traffic on local roads, along with associated noise and pollution.

With its 774 hectares in need of rezoning from "farming" to "special use", LIFAC is backed by Buildev, which is managed by David Sharpe and boasts mining magnate Nathan Tinkler on it board.

Buildev plans to build the 456-hectare Centra Park Geelong on the site.

The breakdown of total land-use is, 100 hectares of intermodal railway corridor area, 126 hectares "constrained area" of vegetation and drainage, while "industrial uses" development areas will take up 548 hectares.

It will effectively take up all the land between the towns of Little River and Lara, small towns between Melbourne and Geelong.

The project has its genesis in a 2007 Meyricks-GHD report for the previous Victorian Government and the Geelong city council which had identified a need for an intermodal terminal to handle regional freight.

That report had to be updated when the site was identified as an option and counted it as superior to other options close to the port or to the west of Geelong.

This was due to its bordering 4km of the Melbourne-Geelong rail line, with Geelong port 10 km and Melbourne port 41 km away, its very proximity the Princes Freeway, and being adjacent to Avalon Airport.

April Geelong council meeting minutes noted its potential for 24-hour operation, level land and "limited residential and agricultural potential due to the proximity to Avalon Airports’s Operational Airspace".

It noted also that Buildev’s "long term vision is for the combination of an intermodal freight terminal, freight and logistics support services, warehousing and industrial uses in an integrated development".

The minutes make mention of "the transfer of freight from B-doubles or road trains originating from regional or interstate destinations to smaller trucks".

On the negative side, the council admits that traffic impacts will be "significant", with 4,000 vehicle movements an hour forecast when the site is developed fully, half of which are expected to be trucks.

By this time, the Princes Freeway and other traffic is expected to be 40,000 vehicles a day, including 18,000 heavy trucks.

The council hopes to keep trucks off Old Melbourne Road east of the secondary site access and non-approved roads towards Lara. VicRoads is seeking more detail and looking to include other impacts in its analysis, including the State Government’s review into the relocation of vehicle imports from Melbourne to Geelong and the development of Avalon Airport.

While the council says retention of rural landscape settings and protection of agricultural land were important, it underlined "protection of opportunities for a potential intermodal transport facility" and that it would support necessary zone changes.

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