KiwiRail offloads Clifford Bay land

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 05:00 25/08/2014
CLIFFORD BAY
FAIRFAX NZ
CLIFFORD BAY: It is understood the land is rated at $1.5 million, but it was hoped it would sell for more than that at tender.

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KiwiRail has sold its Clifford Bay land to Marlborough grapegrower Peter Yealands.

A spokesman for the state-owned enterprise confirmed it had reached an agreement to sell the land originally earmarked for a new ferry terminal, but said it was conditional until Wednesday.

Yealands said he couldn't comment because there were confidentiality agreements in place.

"I've been told KiwiRail are going to make an announcement next week."

KiwiRail put the 412.9 hectares of land it owned on the shores of Clifford Bay and Lake Grassmere, south of Blenheim, on sale in June.

Real estate advertising said the land, in five titles, comes with a four-bedroom house, sheep yards, cattle yards and an on-farm lime quarry. It was used to farm 650 stock units, and "would respond to further development".

It is understood Yealands was interested in the property because of the lime quarry.

The land is owned through a holding company, Clifford Bay Ltd, but its sole shareholder is KiwiRail and its three directors are KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy, KiwiRail finance chief David Walsh, and Thomas Davis, general manager of Interislander, which operates KiwiRail's Cook Strait ferry service.

It is leased to a farmer, who has been running sheep and beef cattle.

The Marlborough Express understands the land is rated at $1.5 million, but it was hoped it would sell for more than that at tender. There was understood to be good interest in the property.

Ngai Tahu sold the flat land to KiwiRail in 1993.

"As a decision has been made that the southern inter-island ferry terminal will remain at Picton, this land is now surplus to KiwiRail requirements, so is being sold."

A ferry terminal at Clifford Bay was first proposed in the 1930. KiwiRail has long been keen on it, as the trip would cut an hour of ferry travel times and about half an hour off the train journey.

After a 2 -year study, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee ruled out the shift of the South Island terminal from Picton to Clifford Bay, saying it was not commercially viable as a fully funded project.

A government team investigating the proposal found that revenue available from potential ferry operators and major freight users of Clifford Bay would only pay for about half the estimated $525m development cost.

The Government would have to pay the other half and carry the risk. The investigation also found Picton could handle bigger freight volumes over the next 30 years.

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- The Marlborough Express

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