31 Aug 2013

Residents to get say in study on Ports of Auckland future

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Written by: Bernard Orsman
Photo: NZ Herald
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 31 August 2013

Len Brown

Len Brown

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is promising to involve all Aucklanders in a study on the future of Ports of Auckland and the wider impact on the city.

A majority of councillors voted yesterday to make further reclamation of the Waitemata Harbour for port business a “non-complying” activity in the draft Unitary Plan pending the study.

The rule puts the brakes on the port company’s latest plans to expand up to 179m into the harbour while the council, as 100 per cent owner of the port, decides how the port fits into the city landscape.

The port company did not respond to the Weekend Herald, but has previously said it was confident the study would vindicate its expansionary plans as the “cheapest, least environmentally damaging option and deliver the best economic outcome”.

Mr Brown told yesterday’s Auckland Plan committee meeting considering planning rules for the port that the study was a holding measure to look at the pros and cons.

He said the study would probably take about a year and be along the lines of the consensus working group that drew up alternative transport funding options.

The public would be invited to participate.

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.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney, whose group has been campaigning against further harbour reclamation, praised Mr Brown for drawing a line in the sand.

“He has heard Aucklanders’ desire for something better than expanded industrialisation. This is about more than reclamation. It is just as much about how we handle the substantial growth in containers throughout the city,” he said.

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Chris Darby called the decision a direction the majority of Aucklanders wanted.

The action follows what Mr Brown said had been the most difficult issue in the public eye during his first term.

It follows a campaign by the Herald since January last year against further reclamation of the Waitemata Harbour and a series this month outlining the port company’s latest expansion plans, strong opposition from Ngati Whatua o Orakei and effects on the city’s rail and transport systems, which have not been fully investigated.


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