Removing traffic congesting freight trains from Newcastle suburbs is one of the key benefits of the corridor, in City of Newcastle’s submission on the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor.
The Lower Hunter Freight Corridor would remove most rail freight from Newcastle’s urban area and reduce the number of heavy vehicles on the roads while also cutting network congestion, improving freight and passenger travel times and boosting economic growth across the Lower Hunter.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle supports the dedicated freight line, which would bypass Newcastle between Fassifern and Hexham, but wants to make sure it meets the needs of Newcastle and the wider region.
City of Newcastle sees huge benefits from the development of the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor, and the need to identify and protect land for its future development,” Cr Nelmes said.
But it’s crucial the future alignment of the corridor responds to the region’s needs over the long term, particularly in servicing the Port of Newcastle and our emerging Black Hill industrial precinct.
Both have been identified as catalyst areas in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, with the Port recognised as a ‘global gateway, providing international freight connections’.
City of Newcastle also seeks assurances that implementation of other important regional infrastructure projects, such as the Richmond Vale Rail Trail, will not be more difficult or costly as a result of the long-term reservation of the corridor, and that there is project integration between the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor, the proposed M1 Motorway extension to Raymond Terrace and the emerging Black Hill precinct.”
While unfortunately the freight rail line is unlikely to be delivered in the next decade, City of Newcastle’s submission also calls for the NSW Government to review key environmental, noise and heritage issues now, rather than leaving them until the detailed design phase.
This includes consideration of potential impacts on the Hexham Swamp and Pambalong Nature Reserve, and the need to support linkages between environmental lands and broader wildlife corridors in the Black Hill area.
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage sites and artefacts that could be affected by the recommended rail corridor must also be assessed and identified now to avoid potential impacts in the future design and construction phases.
Windfarms offer billions of investment dollars for Newcastle.
A renewable energy industry built on large-scale offshore wind farms could unlock billions of dollars in investment and create thousands of jobs in Newcastle, offering a sustainable future for the city.
Speaking at a recent online event – hosted by Friends of the Earth and Climate Council – exploring Australia’s opportunity in offshore wind, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Newcastle was perfectly positioned to embrace this new industry.
Features that make us one of the largest coal regions also position us perfectly to become a major national and international clean energy player,” Cr Nelmes said.
This includes a highly skilled workforce, our accessibility to the National Energy Grid and the untapped potential of the Port of Newcastle to become an export hub for ‘green’ manufactured resources and materials such as green steel and hydrogen.
This industry offers many benefits, but its development must be done with guarantees in place that it would preference the employment of local workers and use of local materials for the benefit of our communities.”
The forum heard from representatives from the energy industry and the Maritime Union of Australia to explore broader issues and long-term actions around the development of offshore wind as submissions are received on the Australian Parliament’s Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill.
Offshore wind farms have been developed globally for almost 30 years as a viable source of renewable energy.
A number of sites around Australia have been identified for possible offshore wind farms, including two potential projects off the coast of Newcastle.
Cr Nelmes said this industry has the potential to deliver a host of benefits for the state and our region, but was mindful of the need for measures to be put in place to protect and deliver local jobs.
City of Newcastle has a long history of supporting and implementing renewable energy projects, including becoming the first local government in NSW to move to 100 per cent renewable electricity,” Cr Nelmes said.
With the correct legislative and regulatory framework, offshore wind along the coast of Newcastle has the potential to play a significant role in sustaining our state’s future energy needs, could unlock billions in new investment in renewable energy infrastructure and provide a significant boost to the local economy.”