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Huge benefits from proposed Auckland port move; NRC

4 Oct 2019, 9:26 AM

Suggestions of a managed Ports of Auckland retreat from Auckland and shift of its operations to Northport offer potentially massive gains for the North across multiple fronts, Northland Regional Council’s chief executive says.

Malcolm Nicolson was commenting today the wake of a newly-released report by the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Working Group, tasked by Cabinet to comprehensively review the freight and logistics sector for the Upper North Island, including ports.

Chaired by former Far North Mayor Wayne Brown, the group’s review is intended to guide the development and delivery of a strategy for the Upper North Island to ensure the supply chain is fit for purpose long-term.  The newly-released report is the group’s second; essentially focusing on determining the possible options different stakeholders have.

Mr Nicolson says the full report – available via the Ministry of Transport website  – sets out in some detail the group’s thinking and how it arrived at its suggested port relocation.

From the regional council’s perspective, there was obvious merit in much of what had been proposed, not the least of which included a substantial boost to the regional economy.

“Pleasingly, there’s also a very clear recognition that Northland needs a fully integrated transportation system comprising various methods of transportation – rail, road and coastal shipping – for its economy to flourish.”

“Additionally, the report’s authors have recognised the importance and necessity of ‘resilience’, which is especially important for Northland which has fewer options in that regard for a number of reasons.”

The benefits of healthy competition and importance of cost efficient transport has also been traversed, recognising the latter is what freight users will choose in selecting their transportation options.

Mr Nicolson was also pleased to see other issues touched on, including the need to reduce the friction between freight movements and people and to be conscious of reducing emissions.

However, Mr Nicolson says it’s important to recognise the report offers benefits to Aucklanders too.

“The report successfully recognises the contribution Northland can make to resolving some of the congestion issues in Auckland and the co-benefits that would arise from greater collaboration,” he says.

Mr Nicolson says given Northland’s geographic location and position as Auckland’s only neighbour to the north, the city had often looked south to the rest of New Zealand for solutions to its problems.

“From my perspective, one bonus from this new report is it reinforces my view that Northland’s proximity to Auckland means it very much has something to offer in the modern environment, particularly as Auckland is forced to deal with considerable and growing pressure and constraints on its own physical spaces and associated infrastructure.”

With the second report now delivered, the group will now move into the final stage of its work where it will consider how to transition from the current state to its preferred option.

Mr Nicolson says with local body elections now just a matter of days away, he’s sure the councils in place in both Northland and Auckland shortly will be taking a keen interest in the future of the port going forward.