5 Apr 2013

Auckland port expansion plan scaled back

10:07 pm on 5 April 2013

Auckland's port company has significantly cut back a controversial plan to reclaim part of the Waitemata Harbour to deal with cargo growth in the next 30 years.

Ports of Auckland says by better using the existing area it can cut by two-thirds a proposed reclamation and possibly return a wharf for public use.

The port has scaled back expansion plans.

The port has scaled back expansion plans. Photo: RNZ

The port last year announced plans to extend Bledisloe Wharf nearly 300 metres into the harbour and reclaim 22 hectares, causing a public outcry.

Its owner, the Auckland Council, sent it back to the drawing board and the company now proposes more efficient use of largely existing space.

The new development reduces the area to 6.6 hectares and shortens the proposed wharf extension to 180 metres.

The company says that would accommodate forseeable growth and Captain Cook Wharf could be freed up to become part of the public waterfront within five years.

Chief executive Tony Gibson said new technology and better use of the existing site will allow it to handle two and a half times the current volume of containers.

"Being part of the Auckland economy, it's important that we can have the ability to grow but we think we've done this responsibly."

Mr Gibson said the company needs to retain the ability for the reclamation to be larger, should unforseen growth occur.

Auckland's downtown business lobby group wants the port to eventually relocate and is calling for an independent study on its future.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney says the port company's own view of the future is too narrow.

He says before any decision is made the port company should sort out its labour practices and ensure it is optimising its existing footprint.

"It's very, very lazy corporate practice just to go and ask for huge land grabs particularly out in to the sparkling Waitemata."

The new development plan will be considered by Auckland Council later in April and public opinion will then be canvassed.