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Senior Business Leaders Join Opposition to Port Expansion

Senior Business Leaders Join Opposition to Port Expansion

Three of New Zealand’s most respected business figures have joined a growing list of business and community leaders dismayed that Ports of Auckland Limited’s (POAL) reclamation plans are on the verge of being approved by Council to be included in the new Auckland Unitary Plan.

Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall, former Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO Sir Ralph Norris and 2011 NZ Herald Business Leader of the Year and Managing Director of Mainfreight Don Braid have spoken out ahead of today’s meeting of the Council’s Auckland Plan Committee, which is fast-tracking Ports reclamations within the Unitary Plan process.

The three business leaders have asked that Councillors move to prevent the Port expansion being included in the Unitary Plan, pending an independent and objective review.
That review would not automatically disqualify the current proposal, the three said, but would seek to see if there is a better and more practical solution for the future.
“Why the rush, as we have not yet had the debate on how to service a busier Port?” They asked. “This is critical and is the obvious next step for Council to take.”

Meanwhile, Heart of the City CEO Alex Swney said that in December 2012, Council claimed to have heard the alarm of Aucklanders and requested a study be carried out that would consider the wider-ranging implications of the Port reclamations and the possibility of trebling the container through put at the Auckland Port.

“Instead, Council has only been offered two reclamation possibilities without any evidence of this wider study being offered,” said Mr Swney. “Council officers have seemingly ignored this request.”

Heart of the City will also be presenting to the Committee, and will stress the need to decouple POAL’s plans from the rush to get the Unitary Plan through.

“There is plenty of capacity at the current port for today's trade. No jobs are at risk and our supply chain is still secure,” said Mr Swney. “The waterfront is one area that Aucklanders and New Zealanders have said we should plan carefully – very carefully. We are tired of 'wharf at a time development' on our waterfront. This is just too important to get wrong, especially in the absence of a meaningful analysis that includes considering all of the costs associated with such a substantial encroachment into our harbour.”

Mr Swney added that all Heart of the City was asking was that Council follow its own process and demand from its officers the report it asked for 6 months ago – a report that considers the costs associated with dredging and blasting the harbour, train and road access and the implications for high-volume freight through the communities in which the Unitary Plan looks to build density.

“Yes it is complicated, which is why it needs time,” said Mr Swney. “And fortunately, in this instance, we do have time. Lets use it wisely.”


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