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Auckland Mayoralty – Does Auckland Need a Downtown Port?

Phil Goff – Does Auckland need-Phil Goff Web

Part of what makes Auckland a stand out city is its environmental location – its beaches, volcanic cones, reserves and especially its harbours.

The Waitemata is the jewel in Auckland’s crown.

For a long time, however, access to our waterfront has been restricted by the red iron fence around the Port and industrial development like the one at the tank farm.

In most similar cities – Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane to name a few – port facilities have been relocated away from the Central Business District (CBD) to allow people in those cities to reclaim their waterfronts.

Interesting places

In Auckland, we have only done that in part, around the Wynyard Quarter, the Viaduct Harbour and Queens Wharf.

They are now great places to visit for locals and tourists alike.

The tank farm will eventually come back to the City and will be a great asset.

Proposals for the rest of the wharf area, however, take us in the opposite direction. There was a storm of protest when Ports of Auckland Limited and Auckland Council suggested extending the wharves and reclaiming more of the harbour for commercial use.

A report on the Port’s future by Ernst Young, commissioned by the Mayor, has been done but not released publicly.

My understanding is that it states that Auckland Port reaches capacity in the next few decades. This will force a decision over relocation or further reclamation.

Promoting Manukau Harbour

The report’s author implicitly recommends the Port moving to a new location either on the Hauraki Gulf or in the Manukau Harbour, the latter being favoured.

My own strongly-held view is that we should not be filling any more of the harbour and that we should focus on opening up the waterfront to the public.

In a growing city, more public open space is necessary.

Some of the land can be used for residential and commercial purposes, which would help fund development or the relocation of the Port.

As the city grows and more freight comes in, the Port will encroach more and more on our harbour and downtown area. Relocation will ultimately become necessary as the Port outgrows the space available to it.

It makes sense to start planning for that now instead of sinking more money into the existing Port facility, which will eventually have to be moved.

Freight movement

The 75 hectares of land at the bottom of the CBD should be used for purposes that return much more value to the city. In addition, 90% of the freight coming into Auckland Port is currently distributed by road adding 2000 trucks a day to our already congested streets and motorways.

The argument against moving the Port is around whether and where there are suitable places for its relocation and the cost of moving it.

A new Port may cost $5 billion. Leaving it where it is, however, does not provide the capacity it needs. The current site would also need more capital expenditure to deal with growing volumes. The council’s report won’t be the final word on this.

It has been done in a hurry and does not provide all the information required for a properly informed decision.

Any decision also needs to consider regional and national needs.

North Port in Whangarei, Tauranga and Auckland should be configured to achieve the best economic, social and environmental outcomes for the whole region.

It would be 15 years at least before alternative facilities could be constructed but it makes sense to do the analysis and planning work now.

It will be important to involve the public in this decision. It is, after all, our harbour.

Phil Goff is former Foreign Affairs, Trade and Justice Minister and has been Member of Parliament for 35 years. Elected from Mt Roskill, he is today Labour Party’s Spokesperson for Defence and Ethnic Communities. Mr Goff is a Mayoral candidate for Auckland, postal voting for which will be held from September 16 to mid-day on October 8, 2016. Indian Newslink will bring you issues that confront our major cities and opinions of our readers and experts in handling them.

Photo Caption:

It would take up to 15 years to open a new port. Auckland Port is getting congested

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