An independent commissioner has granted consents for a new marina to be built that will cater for larger boats and pump nearly $10 million a year into Northland.
The Whangārei Harbour Marina Management Trust applied for consents for a new 130-berth marina, just up the harbour from Limeburner's Creek and accessed off Port Rd, that is expected to create up to 133 jobs during its two-year construction phase.
The project has an estimated cost of between $12m and $13m.
In its decision, independent commissioner Dr Rob Lieffering said the new marina would provide significant positive effects, not only for Whangārei but the wider Northland region.
Insufficient capacity for permanent and casual visiting yachts necessitated plans to build a new marina that can accommodate between 115 and 130 yachts.
The trust already manages the 177-berth marina at the Town Basin and 109 pile moorings at Kissing Pt. The new marina would meet the growing demand for berths for large yachts up to 40m.
According to a report prepared by Market Economics, the local economy is expected to earn $9.4m each year on berthing fees, retail spend, and tourism-related activities once the marina is fully functional by 2021/22.
A marina building and parking would be constructed on more than 4500sq m of reclaimed land and a formed public access along the eastern edge of the reclamation will link with the existing Hatea Loop walkway.
An estimated 100 to 150 piles and associated floating marina piers, berths and associated utilities will be built.
Construction has to start within the next 10 years while consents for the marina will be valid until March 2054.
The Northland Regional Council publicly notified the consent application in September last year and eight of the 10 submissions received supported the venture.
Provided the consent conditions were met, Lieffering said the actual and potential adverse environmental effects from the marina would be "minor and acceptable".
The independent commissioner's decision can be appealed within 15 working days.
The marina project working group convenor Brian McLachlan said now consents have been granted, construction drawings were being done with a view to starting the reclamation work.
"It could take up to two years for the reclaimed land to settle down. The other thing we have to do is to find money and we're out there talking to a lot of people."
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has declined the trust's funding application for $7m from the Provincial Growth Fund.
In the 2015/16 season, the trust had to turn away 140 international yachts and more than 80 vessels on a waiting list.
Given the high demand for permanent berths, the trust expects Okara Marina to reach 100 per cent occupancy for permanent berths within three years of completion.
In the first year, the new marina's income is expected to be about $290,000 with expenses of $150,000, earning a profit of $140,000.
By the time the marina is fully occupied from 2021, it could generate an income of $920,000 - an average of $7984 per berth.
On average, permanent berth holders spend $40,000 annually on boat repairs and maintenance.