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Port could grow bulk, containerised freight business; study


Date: 30 November, 2012


Port could grow bulk, containerised freight business; study

Northland’s multimillion dollar port at Marsden Point has significant capacity to accommodate growth in both bulk and containerised freight, a new study looking at upper North Island ports over the next 30 years shows.

However, the Northland Regional (NRC) and Whangarei District Council (WDC) say more investigative work is needed in the wake of the just-released report, produced for the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Both Northland councils are members of the Alliance, whose membership also includes the mayors or chairs of the Bay of Plenty and Waikato Regional Councils, the Auckland Council and the Hamilton and Tauranga City Councils.

Findings specific to Northland are covered in a joint report on the “Independent Ports Technical Study Final Report” to their respective councils by the NRC’s Growth Infrastructure Manager Vaughan Cooper and WDC’s Group Manager District Living Paul Dell.

In the report, the duo recommends a second stage of work specifically related to “the incremental development of infrastructure and capacity at Northport”.

They say the PwC report confirms Northport has significant capacity to accommodate growth both in terms of bulk and containerised freight out to 2041.

Projections in the PwC report are based on analysis of trade patterns and port throughput over the past 10 years, as well as a host of other factors including expected demographic changes and high level economic forecasts. It also looks at the impact of larger ships, domestic freight costs and inland ports.

The report says if each of the three upper North Island ports is to manage its projected share of trade over the next three decades, each will need to develop further capacity. For Northport, this would include development of a planned fourth berth and deployment of additional storage space.

The duo say “the upper North Island seaports, including the associated road, rail and logistics networks, are vitally important to the current and future economic prosperity of the upper North Island and New Zealand”.

Messers Cooper and Dell note that while Ports of Auckland already has capacity issues and the Port of Tauranga has similar impending concerns which will require significant investment in dredging, berth expansion and internal operations, Northport does not.

“The (PwC) report confirms that there is significant area of land surrounding the (Northland) port, particularly in comparison to that available at the other ports. The report also clearly shows the natural deep water access available at Northport.”

Mr Cooper and Mr Dell say a crucial question the PwC report does not answer – and which Northland should now be seeking to address – is “what is the best investment for NZ Inc?”

“Upgrade/improve Ports of Auckland and the Port of Tauranga when they have limited lifespan already or invest in Northland with its ample space and capacity and natural advantages? How would this occur as incremental changes in the operation of upper North Island ports?”

The duo says unlike Auckland and Tauranga, Northport’s location means it is also not subject to the external pressures on waterfront space from a public interest/amenity perspective.

Both the PwC and Messers Cooper and Dell’s reports will be discussed at a joint meeting of the Northland Regional and Whangarei District Councils in Whangarei on Thursday 06 December.

In an agenda item prepared for that meeting, Mr Cooper and Mr Dell recommend a joint workshop be held with PwC and all four Northland councils to scope a second stage of work specifically related to incremental development of infrastructure and capacity at Northport.

They note the PwC report “touched on supply chains but did not provide any detailed investigation into the different options and potential costs…”

“It would be particularly useful to understand the total supply chain cost for a customer in Auckland using Northport to access Singapore rather than Ports of Auckland.”

Their report also includes a recommendation their respective councils acknowledge the vital economic role all three ports play – and will continue to play.

ENDS

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