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Shippers weigh in on Auckland port options

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016 Fiona Rotherham

Shipping operators favour a future replacement for the current Auckland port to be sited at the Firth of Thames over another recommended option on the Manukau Harbour.

The two options are outlined in a study on the future of Auckland port due for release on Friday, but details of which have already been leaked to the media.

Annabel Young, a member of the Consensus Working Group launched by Mayor Len Brown a year ago to reconsider Ports of Auckland's place on the city waterfront, confirmed it had narrowed down options for a replacement port to just two sites.

The Shipping Federation's executive director said Manukau Harbour or the Firth of Thames could replace the existing port once it ran out of room. Both sites come with a range of major issues.

Northland has been rejected because of the difficulty transporting cargo across Auckland city to rail and road hubs in the south.

Both the Firth of Thames and Manukau Harbour were identified as potential options in a 1999 study by the Ports of Auckland.

Ms Young said the shipping companies she represents favour an east coast port over one to the west.

Although a Manukau port, preferably at Puhinui, would be closer to road and rail links, it has major issues.

They included including weather, swells, dredging, managing and maintenance of the sand bar, and local iwi who have "spent a lot of time cleaning it up and may not want a 75 hectare island in the middle of the harbour", she said.

The biggest problem from the point of view of the shipping operators is that their current shipping routes are mainly on the east coast rather than the west where weather and swell conditions could potentially close a new port at times.

The study recommends further technical work be done on both options.

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