The Port Authority NSW has started engaging with Botany stakeholders this month as part of its work to complete a business case for expanding the container port’s facilities to handle large cruise ships.
According to a project update distributed this month to residents and stakeholders, the cruise terminal project is set to complete yearly milestones and if all goes well, construction of the terminal would start in 2023 and will be operational once complete.
And cruise lines like Royal Caribbean could help with expertise and even investment once the location has been given the green light.
Most lines have promised new ships and increased capacity if there is a new terminal for larger ships to dock.
In the near term, late 2019 is dedicated to the consultation with stakeholders and holding community information sessions to gather feedback for the preferred site option: Molineaux Point or Yarra Bay.
“As part of the Strategic Business Case, Port Authority responded to requests from a range of stakeholders including local Councils, local members of Parliament and local community group,” says a Port Authority spokesperson.
“Consultation will help inform the NSW Government about what local impacts and concerns need to be addressed if the project proceeds.”
The Port Authority NSW have set the agenda of finding out how the community uses and what they value about the local area and ideas of how the surrounding area might be used with a potential terminal to help minimise potential construction and operational impacts.
“We do not anticipate significant impacts on recreational use of Yarra Bay and the surrounding Botany Bay area. On days when there are cruise ships in port, there may be restrictions around recreational activities, including boating, in terms of proximity to any cruise terminal. This is similar to the restrictions currently in place for the boat ramp at Port Botany,” writes the Port Authority on their new website created to engage the community about the project.
During this time, cruise operators and the broader industry will also be engaged to access the viability of the options, potential partnering and financing arrangements.
Royal Caribbean, which has almost 100 commercial port development projects underway globally along with other cruise lines are ready to weigh in and provide their expertise on this project, that has been in talks for 10-years.
“It’s stopped going backwards. We’ve got interest within the state government, we’ve got interest within the Port Corporation and we’ve got a registration of the economic upside of the industry… and the only viable place for a cruise terminal is Port Botany,” says Mr Gavin Smith, newly appointed Managing Director Australia and New Zealand for Royal Caribbean.
“We are working together to work out what it’ll look like, how quickly it could be built … it depends on how quickly the government can reconcile its environmental responsibilities, work with the community.
“Currently, if you drive down and go to the Yarra Bay community sailing club, there are banners on their front fences about stopping the ships. There is a community engagement responsibility, education responsibility that is to be shared between the industry and the state government.”
The cruise lines will also play a crucial role in working out whether the new terminal will be able to attract additional cruise ship calls.
“What is difficult for the government is knowing that if you build it, somebody is going to book a hundred berths. Only we know that, only we know where we want to be and what our future plans are … and would Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceania and P&O and everybody else get their act together and get down here,” says Mr Smith.
“We will work with the government to build the terminal as quickly as we can and at a cost structure that will make it attractive to the industry. I can’t say at this point whether we will be a zero investor or material (investor) but those conversations will be ongoing.”
Steve Odell the Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings says, “The line welcomes the recent announcement from the NSW Government that it will be formally inviting the cruise sector for input on a potential new cruise terminal for Sydney at Port Botany, viewing this as a positive development.
“While a final decision remains pending, we are hoping this round of discussions and the Government’s proposed market engagement will move us closer to resolving Sydney’s serious infrastructure constraints and provide a platform to help future-proof Australia’s burgeoning cruise industry, with Sydney being an important gateway port for the Asia Pacific region.”
Technical studies on the local traffic and environmental impacts will also be underway, according to the report. This includes the consideration of movements generate by passenger arrival, departures and potential public transport solutions. The construction and operational impacts on the land and marine environment, operational noise and pollution, marine life, seagrass and fishing as well as Indigenous and European heritage.
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