13 Dec 2012

Port Otago given go ahead to deepen harbour

8:33 am on 13 December 2012

The Environment Court is allowing Dunedin's port company to deepen Otago Harbour in what the port says is a landmark decision.

The court has granted Port Otago consents to widen and deepen the shipping channel, dispose of spoil offshore and extend its wharf.

Port Otago Ltd chair Dave Faulkner says the decision is as historically significant as its first frozen meat export in the 1800s.

He says it will be the first New Zealand port company to be fully-consented to deepen its channel.

The permission comes after a two-week hearing in which several commercial and recreational fishers appealed against the consents being granted.

Mr Faulkner says increasing the depth of the shipping channel by a metre to 15m will accommodate much larger vessels, which will save on costs for exporters and importers.

Chief executive Geoff Plunket says the port is now fully consented for 25 years.

He says it has taken the port five years to get the go-ahead.

The port plans to deepen, widen and maintain the lower harbour channel, extend the multi purpose wharf and build a new fishing jetty at Port Chalmers.