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New transport rules would save Rawene

New transport rules would save Rawene

The Government's new transport strategy could save the historic Northland township of Rawene, Green MP Sue Bradford said today.

Residents, tourist operators and local businesses all fear that the region will lose Rawene's school, services and hospital if construction of a logging bridge over the Hokianga Harbour goes ahead.

"Hauora Hokianga has provided a great free healthcare service to the people of the region for generations," said Sue Bradford. "It currently serves the need of 9500 people but its chief executive says the siting of the bridge means the hospital could be forced to close.

The new bridge would span the Hokianga Narrows, bypassing Rawene and killing off the historic ferry operation that keeps the town going.

"The only reason this bridge is being built is for the harvest of local forestry plantations," Sue Bradford points out. "But the largest uncut forest in the region is expected to be cut down in just six years, and there are no plans to re-plant the area."

The Government's transport strategy and proposed legislation - announced yesterday [Tuesday] - changes the key transport objective from being a 'safe and efficient roading system' into a 'safe, responsible, integrated and responsive' land transport system.

"A far more sensible alternative to the proposed bridge is a second ferry service across the Hokianga Harbour, to transport trucks between the forest and State Highway 12," Sue Bradford said.

"Examining such a service would comply with the objectives for transport projects and also meet another two key requirement of the strategy - the obligation to take into account the views of affected communities, and the obligation for early and full consideration of land transport options and alternatives.

"Legislation giving effect to the strategy in land transport was introduced yesterday," said Sue Bradford. "So authorities ought to take it into account when making decisions.

"We are calling on the Far North District Council to honour the wishes of the people of Rawene and the intentions of the Government, and to take up the second ferry alternative to the Hokianga Bridge project."

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