MORE than 700 hectares of land are set to be included in the lease of the Port of Newcastle, after state cabinet opted on Monday night to go ahead with the transaction based on advice of strong interest from investors.
However, Nobbys headland won’t be included in the 99-year lease, to ensure public access to the iconic site is retained.
The plan to lease the port was unveiled in the June budget, after the government got more money than it expected for the earlier lease of Port Botany and Port Kembla.
It has promised to use $340 million of the anticipated $700 million proceeds for Newcastle to install light rail in the city centre.
A scoping study was commissioned to recommend what should be included in the transaction.
Treasurer Mike Baird and Ports minister Duncan Gay said on Tuesday the study had confirmed initial investor interest and value in leasing the port.
“Today is an exciting day for the people of Newcastle, who are one step closer to achieving the much-needed revitalisation of their city centre – a major investment which will be made possible through funds raised by the lease of the Port,” Mr Baird said on Tuesday morning.
Newcastle Port Corporation will retain maritime functions including the Harbour Master, dangerous goods approvals, emergency response, and administration of the existing coal chain capacity framework arrangements.
Some staff will transfer to the lessee to ‘‘ensure business continuity’’.
The government is aiming to complete the lease by mid next year and will call for expressions of interest later this month.