Council compromise on controversial Auckland port


Auckland Council has voted to accept a compromise by Ports of Auckland (POAL) to stop building one of two wharf extensions that have provoked widespread protests in the harbour city.

Council compromise on controversial Auckland port
“It allows the port to continue to handle Auckland’s growing freight needs in the short term..."

POAL hoped to build two extensions to Bledisloe Wharf, expanding the eastern arm out by 98m into Waitemata Harbour and the western arm by 92m, before eventually reclaiming the land between them.

But as we went to press, Mayor Len Brown and councillors met to decide that POAL would proceed with only the eastern wharf extension; the western extension put on hold pending a Port Future Study.

POAL also vowed to remove all construction, should the study deem the expansion unnecessary, though this seems unlikely as workers continue to sink concrete pylons 60m below the seabed.

Mayor Len Brown said this latest plan aims to respond to the legitimate concerns of Aucklanders, without compromising the ability of the Port to respond big increases in freight.

"One of the lessons for the Ports is that Aucklanders are expecting them to consult more fully with them on their wharf development plans in future, especially when it impacts on the environment they treasure," he said.

"The community has been clear that they want a careful and constrained approach to any growth of the port footprint.

"We have to balance community concerns with the need for the port to reflect Auckland's continuing strong economic growth."

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson said the compromise was not the preferred outcome, because of its impact on the cruise industry.

"However, it is a pragmatic, workable solution to the current problem," he said.

"It allows the port to continue to handle Auckland’s growing freight needs in the short term, while the long-term future of the port is debated."

The overall port expansion plan has attracted vocal opposition since being announced, with many Aucklanders resentful of POAL’s lack of community consultation.

Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Michael Goldwater said the agreed upon compromise was "…nothing short of a one-fingered salute to the people of Auckland."

"The mayor needs to show some backbone and man up. One wharf is one wharf too many," Goldwater said.
"We want the best option for Auckland and until the promised Port Future Study is available no-one knows what the best option is. All work must halt until the study is complete."

The draft scope and terms of reference for the Port Future Study will be presented to the Auckland Development Committee this month.

It is expected to address a number of community concerns, including sight lines from Queens Wharf, and the need to provide sufficient berth space for both current and future freight needs.

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