Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

City, regional council clash over freight study

Hamilton-based chief executive Mike Pohio. Photo / Supplied
Hamilton-based chief executive Mike Pohio. Photo / Supplied

The Waikato Regional Council has been accused by the city council of dabbling in its area of work by investigating inland ports in Waikato.

A $35,000 report commissioned by the regional council on the development of freight hubs and inland ports in the region was to be heard at the regional transport committee this week, but was withdrawn for peer review.

The report, by Aurecon, found there was a need for only one additional high-volume port - such as the proposed inland port at Ruakura in Hamilton - in the Upper North Island in the medium-term.

It also warned further work needed to be done to address issues in staging the Tainui Group Holdings' 30-year development at Ruakura and the effect it would have on neighbouring land uses and surrounding roads.

But Hamilton councillor Dave Macpherson, who was on the regional transport committee until his resignation this week, said the regional council was dabbling in city council business.

"They [Aurecon] are questioning in that report if Ruakura is the right place for it. It's gone damn too far for that ... Tainui Group Holdings has spent millions on studying that; our people have spent millions ... The fact it is going in Ruakura is pretty much a given."

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker said the decision about Ruakura being an inland port was a city council matter because it was included in the city's district plan.

The Waikato Regional Council's policy and transport group manager, Vaughan Payne, said the city council had supported it commissioning the work under its statutory role to lead regional transport planning.

He said any issues would now be discussed by the Future Proof Committee - a joint committee of Hamilton City Council, Waipa District Council, Waikato District Council and the Waikato Regional Council.

- NZ Herald

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