30 Aug 2013

Auckland Council restricts further port expansion

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Written by Bernard Orsman
Photo by: Richard Robinson
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 30 August 2013

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse is promoting the 11th-hour move to insert the rule into the draft Unitary Plan this week.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse is promoting the 11th-hour move to insert the rule into the draft Unitary Plan this week.

The Auckland Council has put the brakes on any further reclamation of the Waitemata Harbour for port business pending a study on the wider effects on the city.

A majority of councillors voted today to make further reclamation a non-complying activity in the draft Unitary Plan until the study is completed.

At that stage, the council, as 100 per cent owner of the port, will decide what provisions it needs to insert into the plan for expansion.

The decision follows the latest plans by Ports of Auckland to expand up to 179m into the Waitemata Harbour, or up to 6.6ha. This is less than earlier plans allowing for 26ha of expansion.

Mayor Len Brown said the study was a holding measure and puts in place the pros and cons of the issues, including the effects on transport, on what had been the most difficult issue in his first term.

The study, which could take about a year, would come up with a full and final decision for the short and medium-term future of the port, Mr Brown said.

On the same day the port announced a return to profit after the industrial disruption of the year before, councillor Des Morrison said the study put a dampener on the new momentum and sent a poor message to the port company and its customers.

“We don’t need a stage two study to allow this business to continue to grow and contribute to the economic growth we need,” he said.

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Chris Darby said this was the direction that by far the majority of Auckland wanted given their great fondness of the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf.

“We are not just a port city, we are a harbour edge city,” Mr Darby said.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney, whose group has been campaigning against further harbour reclamation said the mayor had drawn a line in the sand.

“He has heard Aucklanders’ desire for something better than an expanded industrialisation. We are describing this as a defining decision of his mayoralty and as important as the city rail loop,” Mr Swney said.


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