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Port-first approach is way forward

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph
BHP's port general manager Chris Dark speaking at the 2018 Hedland Economic & Resources Forum last week.
Camera IconBHP's port general manager Chris Dark speaking at the 2018 Hedland Economic & Resources Forum last week. Credit: North West Telegraph

“Constant land-use conflict issues” in Hedland’s West End as port operations expand around the town’s main street area could be resolved through combined action with the community, local and State governments, according to BHP and the Town of Port Hedland.

Mayor Camilo Blanco and BHP Port general manager Chris Dark, speaking at the 2018 Hedland Economic and Resources Forum, both broached a port-first approach as a proposed way forward to solve ongoing concerns about land use in the West End.

Mr Dark said BHP saw the West End as an “absolutely fundamental land-use conflict issue”.

“This has come about because the world’s largest export port has grown up around a residential part of the town, which in turn has grown much larger than it was,” he said at the forum.

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“We’re keen to see this issue move forward and BHP is happy to take a leadership role; if we come together there is an opportunity for the West End to be one of those success stories that shines across Australia and the world, there is such strong industry supporting it.

“We can’t just remove the West End from being residential and not do something else, so other options considered, can we develop the East End? “Can we develop more residential in the east end to offset a buffer zone in the West End?

“This not a BHP-funded solution, but an insight into our thinking that needs to be shared and discussion that we’ve been having about what’s possible.

“The port continues to grow, we should embrace this growth and the economic stimulus it brings; if we cannot the port will be constrained, a scenario where no one will win.”

Mr Blanco said the port was incredibly important to the town’s future direction.

“The only way the town is going to maintain our population is to create the jobs to support the population that’s here, the Port First Approach is the only way to maintain and build the population in Port Hedland,” he said.

“Its exciting times for Port Hedland and the Pilbara, things like ensuring downstream processing is secured for our town and local jobs in our industries must be our number one aim.

“Clearly our business people are interested in the future of Port Hedland and what’s going on — hopefully they realise the potential that we have in front of us.”

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