New Zealand will have access to shipping services from larger vessels with the granting of resource consents to widen and deepen the Port of Tauranga, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
"I have granted these consents, on the recommendation of the Environment Court, because of the importance for New Zealand of efficient shipping services. The comprehensive conditions in place will ensure the environment is protected," Dr Smith says.
"These consents will enable the Port of Tauranga to proceed with the dredging of the entrance and shipping lanes to accommodate `S' class vessels. Conditions of the consent require restoration of the pipi beds, creation of an artificial reef and careful placement of the dredged sand in approved locations.
Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, welcomed the news, saying the benefits to the New Zealand economy from the ability to accommodate larger vessels would be widespread and significant.
The dredging project will be carried out in several stages, with the first commencing towards the end of 2013 and taking six months to a year to complete.
Larger ships, both containerised and bulk, have relatively higher fuel efficiency and are therefore more carbon efficient with lower operating costs per unit, says Mr Cairns. This will enhance the competitiveness of New Zealand exporters and provide lower freight costs for importers.
Read more in tomorrow's Bay of Plenty Times.