Prime Mover Magazine

Controlling future infrastructure costs

Infrastructure Australia (IA) has released a policy paper outlining the importance of corridor protection for delivering long term infrastructure projects.

The paper, titled Corridor Protection: Planning and investing for the long term, explains that ‘corridor protection’ is a broad term covering actions that governments can take to identify and protect land required to deliver future infrastructure projects, and is an important part of long term strategic planning.

The IA report reveals the key findings from three separate scenario modelling exercises, showing that increased costs, delays and disruptions can be prevented with careful project planning.

"By protecting required land today, governments can minimise the future cost of building new infrastructure. Early acquisition protects against the possibility that the cost of the land will increase over time, increasing the future cost of delivering the infrastructure."

The paper recommends the Australian Government in partnership with state and territory governments establish effective corridor protection mechanisms to ensure the timely preservation of surface, underground and air corridors, as well as strategic sites, for future infrastructure priorities.

"The mechanism should include long-term strategic planning and project development work to identify corridors and lands, a stable and independent governance framework and shared financial responsibility between the Australian Government and its state and territory counterparts."

The paper mostly focuses on long distance corridors, particularly pointing out rail link corridors as an example. However, it also includes planning for first and last mile deliveries and logistics.

"As our cities redevelop, protecting a range of smaller, ‘first and last mile’ links is likely to become increasingly important…targeted protection initiatives may be required to facilitate the movement of freight and deliveries in the established parts of our cities."

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) welcomed the policy paper, with Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff, saying the ALC agrees with the importance of corridor preservation.

“ALC has consistently worked to highlight the necessity of corridor preservation as part of a consistent and coherent approach to developing Australia’s national freight infrastructure,” said Kilgariff.

“Good planning leads to good infrastructure outcomes for the community. Preserving corridors to accommodate the infrastructure needed to meet our future freight task lies at the heart of responsible planning policy.

“This new policy paper from IA adds to the weight of evidence demonstrating just how vital corridor preservation is. Making the right decisions today not only helps to reduce the cost of infrastructure projects in the future, but also avoids community conflict and social dislocation by providing certainty as to land use.

“The publication of this document is especially timely, coming as the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy is being developed by the Federal Government.

“ALC has been working closely with its members and other industry participants to highlight the issues that the developing Strategy must address if it is to deliver optimal outcomes for the freight logistics industry and for the wider economy. The centrality of corridor protection to obtaining the right outcomes was underscored by ALC’s recently-released Working Paper, Charting The Course For a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

“Corridor protection was also a core theme during an ALC workshop held yesterday in Brisbane, due to the need to preserve a corridor that will permit an alternative dedicated freight rail connection from the Inland Rail route right through to the Port of Brisbane.

“It is pleasing to note IA’s policy paper highlights this project as one that would substantially benefit from taking immediate action on the matter. IA estimates potential savings of $66 million could be achieved if governments act quickly to protect this freight corridor.

“Of course it is equally important to preserve land and corridors in Melbourne, to permit development of an interstate freight terminal that will enable a port-to-port connection for Inland Rail.

“IA’s recommendation that a national framework be developed for corridor protection is most welcome, and should be supported by governments at all levels. Such an approach would undoubtedly lead to better economic, environmental and community outcomes in infrastructure projects across all jurisdictions."

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