Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Port expansion plans come under scrutiny

The Ports of Auckland's preferred option is to extend Bledisloe Wharf up to 179m into the harbour. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Ports of Auckland's preferred option is to extend Bledisloe Wharf up to 179m into the harbour. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The latest plans to expand Waitemata Harbour for port business are set to be decided by Auckland councillors next week - before the wider impacts on the city have been examined.

Councillors have been briefed behind closed doors and primed to adopt Ports of Auckland's preferred option of extending Bledisloe Wharf up to 179m into the harbour.

Today, the Herald begins a three-part series examining the latest expansion plans, and raising questions about the impact of container growth on the city's roads, rail and harbour edge. The council flagged it would make changes last year but abandoned that for a new plan driven by the port company.

The series will raise fresh concerns by Ngati Whatua, who own a crucial landholding alongside the port at Quay Park and who have been silent on port expansion until now.

The series coincides with a new campaign by the Heart of the City lobby group, which believes there is no rush for councillors to include expansion plans in the Unitary Plan - the new planning rulebook for the city.

"The Auckland Harbour is an Auckland-defining asset," says Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney, whose group wants Auckland to be one of the great harbour-edge cities of the world.

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson refused to participate in the Herald series, saying through a spokesman that debate over port expansion had been running for nearly two years and the company had contributed widely to it.

The port company released its latest plans in April and held a month of consultation. It is not releasing the results of the consultation until after councillors have decided what to do.

The council meets on August 13 to make a decision. One option allows for further "discussion/engagement".

- NZ Herald

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