Harry L. Julian: City wharf vital for trade

I write to express my strong concern about the changes Dick Hubbard wishes to make at the Wynyard Wharf Tank Farm.

Hubbard speaks from ignorance and is being totally unrealistic when he compares the Port of Auckland with Sydney and London, to take just two of the ports he mentions.

London has Tilbury Port, miles down the Thames River from London, and Sydney has Botany Bay Port, separate but adjacent to Sydney for bulk, liquids and container cargoes.

The Port of Auckland's commercial facility is constrained between Wynyard and Ferguson wharves, with nowhere else to go apart from a multibillion dollar expenditure for a new port on the western side of the Hauraki Gulf, possibly 50 years down the track.

In the foreseeable future, wharves within this area will require continued upgrading, and possibly in one case being removed completely to handle increasing trade.

Auckland is a rapidly growing city, as we all know.

More than 500,000 tonnes of bulk liquids and cement cargo pass through the Wynyard Wharf area, employing more than 4000 personnel and earning port revenue of $1.5 billion annually.

This trade cannot be handled through other areas of the Port of Auckland. Expansion ideas for liquid, bulk and container port facilities in the Te Atatu upper harbour area have long been abandoned.

How and where do we handle special and other liquid products when we lose Wynyard Wharf?

Sure, we have an oil pipeline from Marsden Point, but what happens to Auckland if there is a massive disruption to the oil refinery or pipeline and Auckland is forced to import bulk liquids by sea?

The Port of Auckland is a river port, with continual sediment build-up, requiring regular maintenance dredging.

A few years ago we were dredging the Ferguson container terminal and the Princes Wharf passenger wharf with an overseas dredge, because sediment build-up from the upper harbour forced draft limitations on large passenger and container vessels.

The present chairman of the Auckland Regional Council, Mike Lee, and a few others of his ilk chained themselves to the dredge hoping to force the Auckland Harbour Board to stop essential dredging. They were unsuccessful.

There are some elected local body members presently in power who are unfortunately members of the Flat Earth Society.

Along with a few other like-minded people I battled and won the fight to develop the Viaduct Basin to its present condition.

I am strongly apposed to diminishing the Port of Auckland by removing Wynyard Wharf as a commercial facility.

Auckland is on its present site because of its harbour. Auckland needs its harbour.

Roll on the next elections.

* Harry L. Julian is a past chairman of the Auckland Harbour Board.

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