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UNISA Study: Ports Can Meet Future Freight Demand

Media release
29 November 2012

UNISA Study: Ports Can Meet Future Freight Demand

An independent technical study on the current and future freight demand for ports and ports-related infrastructure in the upper North Island is now complete.

The study, which began in June, was designed to build a common understanding of the current and future freight demand for ports and ports related infrastructure in the upper North Island, scenarios to meet the demand and the potential implications.

Projections from the study, conducted by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) on behalf of the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA), suggest that the upper North Island port network (which includes Northport and Refining NZ at Marsden Point, Ports of Tauranga and Ports of Auckland) will experience strong growth over the next 30 years but will have the capacity to meet the projected freight task.

Key findings from the report include:
• Annual tonnage growth across the upper North Island port network of 1.7% - 2.3%
• Although the port network can meet future demands, it needs to become more efficient (particularly in container trade) and incremental investment in infrastructure is necessary, including the completion of consented works
• The Port of Auckland is likely to face capacity constraints ahead of the other ports, which will require a range of possible responses
• Pressures on land transport infrastructure are likely to be less than those on port infrastructure due to the growth in transhipping (when cargo is offloaded at a port and loaded directly onto another vessel)
• Any substantial changes to the configuration of the upper North Island port system would have significant costs that would likely outweigh the benefits.

UNISA undertook the study to gain a collective picture of the upper North Island ports’ infrastructure for the benefit of all of New Zealand. The upper North Island ports system plays a major role as New Zealand’s link to the rest of the world.

UNISA members agree that ensuring the upper North Island ports and related infrastructure function well, now and in the future, is key to New Zealand remaining internationally competitive and prosperous.

Each of the UNISA councils will formally receive and consider the report at their appropriate December 2012 council or committee meetings.

Due to the non-binding nature of the study, each individual UNISA council will decide what further work, if any, it will pursue regarding its own port(s) and the implications for its region as a result of the study.

Background information
UNISA comprises the territorial authorities from Whangarei district, Hamilton city, Tauranga city and Auckland as well as the regional councils from Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Northland. UNISA’s purpose is to respond and manage a range of agreed inter-regional and inter-metropolitan issues.


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