The Moorebank development also faced numerous community and regulator challenges. Although garnering some local support due to benefits of job creation and investment, significant opposition quickly emerged from residential areas close to the site, primarily over concerns about noise and traffic impacts, air quality and public health and safety associated with the 24/7 operations and large volumes of truck traffic generated by the proposal.
Given the scope of the Moorebank project, it was critically important to ensure that studies, impacts and community concerns could be mitigated, both to ensure successful implementation of the project at hand, and to streamline processes for future IMT development projects. Concerns that were mitigated include:
Biodiversity investigations undertaken for the EIS led to the establishment of an on-site Conservation Area to preserve riparian habitat, biodiversity and Aboriginal heritage. No intermodal development will occur inside the re-zoned Conservation Area, which will be managed from a conservation perspective. Furthermore, additional parcels of government land were secured for addressing future biodiversity offset requirements.
The EIS explored numerous design measures aimed at mitigating noise impacts, including the use of wide rail track radii to reduce wheel squeal, track damping and noise barriers on the rail spur leading into the site. For Moorebank’s internal operations, studies focused on technology substitutions for designing a quieter plant. We integrated targeted design recommendations from on-going studies throughout the planning process in order to ensure compliance with established noise goals.
In-depth traffic studies undertaken for the EIS established distinguishable differences between projected impacts of the IMT site and the traffic congestion impacts of broader population growth of South West Sydney. In addition to alleviating specific concerns relating to the Moorebank project, the assessment is subsequently being used by stakeholders as a guide in negotiations over the investment, timing and extent of general road network upgrades.
The EIS included air quality and health impact assessments. Environmental performance enhancement opportunities explored included electrification of the plant in lieu of diesel power. Requirements surrounding unnecessary emissions generated by idling diesel locomotives were also identified, and implementation of the aforementioned mitigation measures helped establish that the project would not exceed EPA or human health risk guidelines.
A case study for IMT development
With continued growth in population and consumer demand on the horizon, the Moorebank IMT development serves as a valuable case study for future projects around the globe. Most notable among the lessons learned is that early, in-depth planning for intermodal site development is essential at both the strategic and project levels.
This article summarizes a paper originally presented by Paul Greenhalgh at CORE2018, a conference on railway excellence held from April 30 to May 2, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.