Northport takes issue with study's focus

By Fiona Rotherham

Northport says the greater Marsden Point area is particularly suited to port expansion. Photo / NZME
Northport says the greater Marsden Point area is particularly suited to port expansion. Photo / NZME

Northport is calling for further discussions on "unbundling" alternatives to the growth issues facing Ports of Auckland, although any decisions on more detailed studies into port relocation have been shelved for the incoming Auckland Council.

The council's Auckland Development Committee this week voted to simply refer the findings of the Port Future Study released last week to the new council to be elected in October.

The study found that a new location was likely to be needed for the port which is facing growth constraints but in the interim there was a need to allow it to build extra berth space despite public opposition to further extensions into the Waitemata Harbour.

It also said that Northport and Port of Tauranga were unable to handle the extra trade from Ports of Auckland and that divvying up parts of its business to other ports would mean a loss of revenue to the council and the scale necessary to stack up a new location.

Northport said the study took an overly narrow focus and contains miscalculations about the potential for it and the Port of Tauranga to be viable solutions to the Auckland port's infrastructure challenges.

It wants more work done prior to the election on possibly "unbundling" the port's total freight task to other ports ahead of investigating billion-dollar relocation sites.

"Auckland will, in all likelihood, always require a port facility," said Northport chairman John Goulter. "But there are opportunities for the load to be shared across the upper North Island and these have not yet been explored fully."

The report overlooked expanding capacity in the next decade at Northport where log exports are expected to fall significantly as key Northland forests are harvested and its container handling ability is being developed with consented plans more than doubling berth length.

Goulter said the greater Marsden Point area was particularly suited to port expansion with 180ha of undeveloped commercial-zoned land adjacent to the port boundary.

While much of the discussion about Ports of Auckland's future is about how its neighbours and stakeholders don't want it to grow any further, the people of Northland would welcome more cargo coming to their region, Goulter said.

He said that fact wasn't lost on the port study group chairman Rick Boven, who recently said "no one wants a port in their backyard, except possibly Northport".

- BusinessDesk

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