Peters backs Northport for new role

Northport can do the job, Winston Peters says.
Northport can do the job, Winston Peters says.

Northport is the logical place to take Auckland's shipping freight - a move that would save hundreds of millions of dollars, Northland MP and NZ First leader Winston Peters says.

Northport, at Marsden Pt, has been ruled out as a replacement for the Ports of Auckland (POA) after a study deemed it would be unable to cope with the growth in Auckland freight together with its own demands. POA could be moved to a new "super port" in the Manukau Harbour or the Firth of Thames at a cost of $4 billion to $5.5 billion. That is one of the main findings of a Port Future Study report that said in the long term POA will not be able to continue at its current downtown location.

But Mr Peters said Northport could be developed further to take Auckland's freight for far less than a new port would cost. He said Aucklanders and taxpayers will pay a huge financial price if the port is not moved to Northport.

"Appalling parochialism is keeping the port in the Auckland region despite 5.5 billion reasons why Northport is the far superior choice," Mr Peters said.

"Each of those 5.5 billion reasons is a dollar because that's the cost of relocating the current port 70 kilometres to the Firth of Thames. Then, like dredging half of the Sahara every year to have the practical depth needed for a port, both the establishment and maintenance costs will be utterly prohibitive."

He said the government should insist upon a nationwide transport policy that included ports.

"For way less money than a new port for Auckland would cost, alongside all the associated infrastructure, a railway from Marsden Pt and an upgrade of the Northern rail line, continuing on to South Auckland, as well as modernising Northport, is a far better option. Only Northport has the harbour depth and the flat land required for a modern port serving Auckland," Mr Peters said.

"In one fell swoop this would dramatically ease the congestion in Auckland while kicking serious regional economic development in Northland.

"The Auckland Port Study is parochial and impractical nonsense and as soon as some of Auckland's proponents remember they don't exist in isolation and belong to a country called New Zealand, the better."

He said Northport has two berths with a 13m maximum depth at lowest astronomical tide/chart datum (LAT/CD) and one berth at 14.5m. Port of Auckland's LAT/CD is 13.0m (northern berth) and 12.5m (inner berth). Mr Peters said moving would mean that some of New Zealand's most expensive commercial property would not be used as a car yard.

- Northern Advocate

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