Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Wharf extension work should stop - port opponents

Auckland councillors will today consider the Port Future Study, which recommends Ports of Auckland will have to move to a new location. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Auckland councillors will today consider the Port Future Study, which recommends Ports of Auckland will have to move to a new location. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Work should stop on designing a new wharf extension into the Waitemata Harbour until alternative options have been explored, say port opponents.

Auckland councillors will today consider the Port Future Study, which recommends Ports of Auckland will have to move to a new location in the long-term but requires extra berthage in the meantime.

After the study was released on Friday, Ports of Auckland said it had taken reclamation off the table but work would start soon to design a piled wharf extension.

Port chief executive Tony Gibson said any future capacity would be delivered by using a piled structure and include consultation with stakeholders and the public.

Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Michael Goldwater said the port company was trying to lock in its harbour expansion by starting design work.

The study recommended that "rigorous identification and evaluation of alternative options" needs to occur before any further extension of port operations into the harbour, he said.

Port expansion opponents on the study's consensus working group (CWG) agreed that filling in a gap of about 25m between two nibs at the end of Bledisloe Wharf to create extra berthage was a viable option for further investigation, said CWG member Greg McKeown.

He said several CWG members, including representatives from Generation Zero, Committee for Auckland, Urban Auckland and Ngati Whatua opposed the port company's plans to expand a further 40m beyond the nib ends.

Mr Goldwater said independent analysis was needed to understand the berthage problem and potential solutions.

"From our viewpoint, the solution should exist within the existing footprint," he said.

A report by the study's consultants, EY, found three additional berths could be created by demolishing Marsden Wharf, extending Captain Cook Wharf by 110m and piling the 25m gap at the end of Bledisloe Wharf.

This would result in Captain Cook Wharf being shared between cruise ships and imported vehicles, which EY said would not be parked but transferred to one or more carparking buildings.

"It is recommended that this alternate option is investigated further," the consultants said.

A port company spokesman yesterday said it was adhering to the recommendations of the study report, including the need for additional berthage for cruise and multi-cargo operations, the need for a northern east-west berth at Bledisloe Wharf, rigorous evaluation of alternative options and established processes for short-term berth provision decisions.

The recommendations were agreed by all members of the CWG, the spokesman said.

Councillors will consider referring the port study report and recommendations to the incoming council following October's local body elections.

Labour MP and mayoral candidate Phil Goff is opposed to further port creep, including a wharf extension. He said the study provided the "burning platform" to move the port's operations over time.

The port study has recommended two new locations for a port on the Manukau Harbour or the Firth of Thames and for more detailed work to be done.

Said Mr McKeown: "The independent EY report says that the current port will almost certainly be capacity constrained in the long-term, and that short term measures should align with a long-term strategy. For that reason we need to get on and investigate the Manukau and Firth of Thames options before other land uses shut those options out."

Port study - what happens next?

• Councillors consider study report tomorrow.

• Ports of Auckland keen to start designing wharf extension.

• Port opponents want independent analysis done of alternative options.

• Issue likely to be resolved by new council after October's local body elections.

- NZ Herald

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