Terminal study cost backed

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 16:00 24/02/2012

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The Government will make the decision on whether to proceed with a proposal to move interisland ferries from Picton to Clifford Bay, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday, but he wants to make sure "absolutely everything" is looked at first.

After meeting KiwiRail last week, he visited Port of Marlborough yesterday and also met Strait Shipping boss Sheryl Ellison to discuss the feasibility study exploring potential impacts of any shift to Clifford Bay.

"They [KiwiRail and Strait Shipping] are the two big players as far as interislander freight is concerned."

Mr Brownlee said there would always be a tradeoff between the benefit of faster transit of freight between two islands and the cost, which was not always measured simply in the dollars per tonne.

He was interested to know what the effects on Picton, Blenheim, and the wider community were. However, he didn't want to say what specific issues had particular weight in the Government's consideration of the Clifford Bay proposal.

"There's a process the Government's committed to at the moment. The port company is keen to be one of the collaborators on all the information gathering. They want to participate in the process and would like it to be a co-operative arrangement for information sharing and information gathering.

"They have an obvious interest in making sure they protect the port company's interests. Ultimately it's a Government decision, but I want to make sure we have considered absolutely everything that needs to be looked at."

Mr Brownlee declined to give his views on the proposal.

"I wouldn't want to start expressing views one way or another. Clifford Bay has been on the horizon for 35 years and all the considerations that have gone on previously, all the concerns that prevented it from going on then, have to be considered still."

Mr Brownlee defended about $650,000 being spent on reports on the latest Clifford Bay proposal.

"Given the Clifford Bay project starts at $200 million and climbs from there as much as it could, it's probably a wise thing to [spend money to work through issues]. It's about deciding whether it goes ahead."

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- The Marlborough Express

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