A LONG-awaited report on future development around Melbourne's port has recommended improving buffers between the port and Maribyrnong residents.
The Ports and Environs advisory committee report was finally released last week, 18 months after it was first presented to then planning minister Justin Madden just before the state election.
Current minister Matthew Guy has come under heavy criticism for sitting on the report despite repeated calls for its release.
It contains recommendations for shaping development around Melbourne's ports, including rezoning land to improve buffer zones near major hazard facilities such as the Mobil Yarraville Terminal. Maribyrnong Council and the Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) have long disagreed on future planning in the Yarraville precinct, particularly between Docklands Highway and Footscray Road.
The council tabled three expert witness statements on potential risk exposures from existing major hazard sites and on the economic impact of rezoning the existing business zone to industrial.
A key recommendation affecting future development in Maribyrnong is to implement a business3 zone in Yarraville's 'Area A', bounded by Docklands Highway to the west, Lyons Street to the south, Maribyrnong River to the east and Footscray Road to the north.
Another recommendation is the rezoning of the land in the Francis Street precinct from mixed use to a combination of industrial 3, business 3, residential 1 and public use zones.
PoMC spokesman Peter Harry said this decision provided certainty for the corporation, Maribyrnong Council, property owners and the community. "On the matter of Coode Island, we stand by the risk-averse approach to planning of the area and note that businesses with major operations at Swanson Dock and Coode Island also made submissions about the need to protect their operations from the encroachment of sensitive uses by ensuring appropriate buffers."
A number of businesses and local residents affected by the port's operations suggested changing the port's activities to reduce potential amenity and risk impacts.
The Ports and Environs advisory committee noted that a doubling of freight transport by 2025 would be difficult to manage "without creating adverse impacts upon the adjacent road network and residential areas", and a number of issues need to be addressed.
"These issues include ... truck volumes, travel times, truck routes, traffic noise, mode split and the transport network. The transport issues are complex and must be considered in conjunction with land use, social and environment matters."
Williamstown MP Wade Noonan welcomed the report's release and hoped it would provide a greater degree of certainty for councils and residents. He said the issue of transport from the ports and its impact on local roads must be dealt with urgently.