Posted: 09 August 2007
Negotiations for rail link land under way
Negotiations are under way to buy the land needed for a proposed multimillion dollar Marsden Point rail link.
A four-strong negotiating team hired by the Northland Regional Council (NRC) is working its way through a list of about 20 Bream Bay property owners whose land is needed for the proposed 16km Oakleigh to Marsden Point line.
Council Chief Executive Officer Ken Paterson says it’s important to secure the land involved - currently a mixture of farm and commercial property - to allow eventual construction of the $100 million-plus link itself.
“Not only does the land along the proposed route need to be protected, we also want to provide some sort of certainty to the landowners involved.”
Mr Paterson says the Council is working closely with rail operator Ontrack and – all going well – hopes to see a formal designation process for the proposed route begin before the end of the year.
He says the negotiation team is led by Northland farm accountant Peter Byers, and also includes Whangarei-based lawyer Andrew Golightly and two valuers, one from Whangarei and the other Taranaki.
The hand-picked team will be working with landowners to try to reach a “fair and mutually satisfactory outcome” on the value of affected land and a proposed sale and purchase agreement.
“These discussions will also look at how existing land owners might continue to use any land purchased in the interim until the proposed link is built.”
Mr Paterson says in some cases, designation will only require a relatively small slice of a larger property. In those cases, the Council intends to initially concentrate its efforts on purchasing the bits of land actually needed, rather than the entire property.
He says while the Council has a preliminary estimate as to the likely cost of securing the properties, it is not making that figure public at this stage both as a courtesy to the landowners involved, but also so as not to prejudice any future negotiations.
The Regional Council believes a rail link is vital given the contributions the rapidly developing Bream Bay area makes to Northland’s regional economy through its port and other businesses.
An $800,000 feasibility study completed in 2003 for the Northland Regional and Whangarei District Councils found developing the link would offer a host of benefits, including helping to ease forestry-related traffic volume and congestion problems on the region’s roads.