Bell Bay freight down 88%

THE port previously designated to become Tasmania's container gateway to the world handled just 1 per cent of the state's containerised freight in 2011-12.

Tasport's 2011-12 annual report shows an 88 per cent drop in the number of containers going through Bell Bay compared with the previous 12 months.

It follows the loss of international and domestic containerised services at Bell Bay last year. 

In 2010-11 the port handled 10 per cent of Tasmania's container freight.

Both figures are a far cry from 2008 and before when Bell Bay regularly handled about 20 per cent of Tasmania's shipping containers. 

In raw terms Bell Bay saw a decrease of 41,805 units last financial year. 

This contrasts with Devonport Port, which increased containers by 16,650 units, a 9 per cent rise, and Burnie Port, which saw a 5 per cent increase to 10,669 units.

Any freight transferred from Bell Bay to Devonport or Burnie results in a profit loss for Tasports because of different commercial arrangements between the ports. 

This, combined with a statewide freight tonnage drop of 14 per cent and other factors, saw Tasports lose $6 million last year. 

Overall tonnage at Bell Bay slid 53 per cent.

The underutilisation of Bell Bay has seen the state government rethink its future. 

In an update to Infrastructure Australia the government said a decision on the future location of a dedicated container port in Tasmania had not been made. 

This differs from previous submissions and public comments that identified Bell Bay as the long-term container terminal of choice.

The government's $150 million submission to Infrastructure Australia for an expansion of Bell Bay is listed as having ``real potential''.

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