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Coastal Paradise to Industrial Port: Werribee South’s Scenic Views at Risk

Werribee South shipping port

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Residents Outraged as Bay West Development Threatens Beachfront and Little River Faces Unwanted Rail Hub

Locals in Werribee South are not pleased about the view from Werribee South Beach changing to an industrial-looking port due to the proposed Bay West development. This new port is part of a broader logistics initiative that would significantly alter the area’s landscape, transforming scenic coastal views into an industrial hub.

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Pacific National is also proposing to develop a new intermodal rail terminal and surrounding warehousing precinct in Little River, called the Little River Logistics Precinct. This hub would be critical to the national supply chain, aiming to keep more freight on rail rather than shifting to trucks. However, Little River residents are unhappy with this proposal, fearing that the rail hub will disrupt their community.

Meeting held in Little River
A meeting was held in Little River early May.

Bay West, located west of the Werribee River mouth, has been identified as the site for additional port capacity, according to advice from Infrastructure Victoria accepted by the government in 2017. The proposed port is strategically positioned to handle various trades, including containers, dry and break bulk, grain, and roll-on/roll-off commodities such as vehicles and equipment. The Port of Melbourne, currently Australia’s busiest and Victoria’s only container port, handles around 3 million TEU annually, with an expected average annual growth of 3.5% until 2050, potentially increasing throughput to 8.9 million TEU by then. “TEU” or Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, is a standard measure used in the shipping industry to quantify cargo capacity

Initial work by the Department of Transport, in consultation with Melbourne Water and Wyndham City Council, has broadly confirmed the land required for Bay West. This includes the port itself with a 4.1-kilometre quay line and associated road and rail connections. The Department of Transport’s findings suggest that 300 hectares of waterside structures and 1,000 hectares of land need protection for future development at Bay West.

Werribee River Mouth Port
The plan for Bay West

Planning for Bay West includes confirming the scope of road and rail capacity, with a potential transport corridor up to 240 meters wide. This would accommodate four truck lanes in each direction, four rail tracks, maintenance access routes, pipelines, and allowances for future growth. Infrastructure may need to be raised on piers to meet environmental and flood risk considerations.

The development of Bay West is complex due to its location within a Ramsar-listed wetland and proximity to the Melbourne Water treatment facility. Protecting this site for a major port and associated freight corridors will require several assessments and the establishment of planning overlays to prevent developments that could hinder the port’s future growth.

Bay West port near Werribee South
AI generated image of Bay West Port

While a new port at Bay West might not be needed until around 2050, earlier demand could necessitate its development sooner. Therefore, the government is directing Ports Victoria to lead the next phase of planning in collaboration with key transport, environment, and planning authorities. Governance arrangements for Bay West will need to be determined, potentially involving the extension of the Victorian Port Waters boundary or incorporating Bay West land into existing planning schemes.

Strategic planning for Bay West will involve confirming the land of interest, introducing notice requirements for new uses, examining planning scheme protection options, and identifying land for transport corridors and infrastructure to support Bay West as a premium container port. This proactive approach is essential to ensuring that the state is prepared for future freight and logistics needs, despite the concerns of local communities in Werribee South and Little River.

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