Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

MP says plan gives nod to huge port expansion

Ports of Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Ports of Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The Auckland Council has been accused of prematurely giving the all-clear to a huge Ports of Auckland expansion into the Waitemata Harbour.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye is concerned that the draft Auckland Plan appears to set in stone the upgrade of the port, whose owners have proposed a long-term expansion from 77ha to 95ha.

In a letter to Mayor Len Brown the National Party representative urged the council to acknowledge the full process of the expansion, including public consultation.

Ms Kaye wrote: "I am concerned that the Auckland Council could give the impression through the wording of the plan that the Auckland Council is agreeing to the significant development and reconfiguration of the Ports of Auckland without acknowledging a number of factors that could influence any future potential development."

She suggested adding a paragraph to the plan which took into account the number of hurdles to the enlargement going ahead.

Ms Kaye told the Herald that if the draft plan was unchanged, it would send a strong signal from the council that it was keen to move ahead with the growth of the port.

In response, Mr Brown denied the council was pre-emptively authorising the expansion of the Ports of Auckland.

"Rather is it simply restating the status quo that has been in place since 1987, with regard to the Port's zone of operation. Any request for expansion will need to go through all the proper processes and would be fully debated by the council and the public."

He said the final copy of the Auckland Plan would reflect this, and changes would also be made to the Transport and Economy chapters which addressed Ms Kaye's concerns.

Mr Brown said the plan needed to acknowledge that in the next 30 years, increased container traffic might create demand for new port berths. This would be dealt with at the time by the resource consent process.

Waitemata and Gulf councillor Mike Lee said he was opposed to the port's footprint expanding, but was satisfied the Auckland Plan did not give the go-ahead to Ports of Auckland.

Some groups, such as Heart of the City, have expressed concern about the expansion, which could see the port extend 250m into the prized harbour.

Ports of Auckland said it simply wanted the current coastal port zone that allowed space for future growth to be maintained in the Auckland Plan.

The Port Development Plan proposed a larger site to cope with a 400 per cent increase in traffic before 2055.

The Auckland Council has instructed the port company to double its dividend from a 6 per cent rate of return to 12 per cent over five years.

GROWING PAINS

* Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye has written to Mayor Len Brown urging the council to acknowledge the full process of the expansion, including public consultation.
* Mr Brown has denied that the council was pre-emptively authorising the expansion of the Ports of Auckland.
* The long-term expansion of the port is from 77ha to 95ha.
* The larger site is to cope with a 400 per cent increase in traffic before 2055.

- NZ Herald

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