Liverpool Plains Shire Council has approved modifications to the Werris Creek intermodal facility operated by Crawfords Freightlines.
Crawfords Freightlines is a family owned company with its headquarters in Sandgate, Newcastle. The Werris Creek Intermodal facility, opened in 2019, is one of the six hubs that company uses to facilitate freight cargo transport across the eastern seaboard.
The main upgrades include addition of a cotton seed shelter to provide a secure and clean environment to handle cotton seed; and a concrete pad and transportable drive-over auger are to be installed to improve efficiency for grain deliveries and eliminate unnecessary truck movements on site, and significantly reduce the potential for dust generation in the Northern area of the facility.
Other modifications to the site include reducing dust onsite, reducing the permissible hours of operation outside of the approved ordinary hours of operation and modifications to stormwater management.
Among concerns raised in submissions received from the local community were noise, air quality, dust, road safety and impact on road deterioration. These concerns were carefully considered and thorough environmental, noise and other impact assessments were undertaken. In response to several of these concerns:
- Air quality is part of a Pollution Reduction Program in the EPL. This has been assessed by the EPA to be an acceptable level and will be monitored by the EPA.
- There will be a decrease in hours of operation at night. This will assist with overall sleep disruption. The current noise monitoring reports all fall within the limits set as being reasonable by the EPA.
- Impacts on road safety due to trucks is minimised by shifting the freight off the road onto rail.
- The EPA has reviewed and were satisfied with the fumigation and venting procedures currently being undertaken.
- The facility serves as a rail provider to local farmers and growers. Transporting freight via rail removes a significant number of trucks off the road which results in significant cost reductions to the upkeep and maintenance to the road network.
- Removing trucks from the road ultimately increases road safety for all users.
“There is no doubt the location of the freight handling facility is close to Werris Creek and, that it impacts the village,” said Mayor Doug Hawkins.
“However, in this instance, the planning assessment was not to consider whether the impacts from the existing approved development were suitable, only if the proposed modification will increase impact, and if that impact is suitable.
Council agreed that the impact of the project is suitable and that the long-term economic benefits of the development for Werris Creek and the broader Liverpool Plains Shire are considerable,” he said.
Those who support the development noted the benefits of the Crawfords freight handling facility to economic development and agricultural production within the region as they provide direct access to export markets for grain and pulse crop producers leading to higher returns. By providing a constant low-cost path to export markets there is also a direct impact on farm logistics, with producers able to move three loads a day instead on one load per day direct to port.