Greens oppose ferry port transfer

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 06:51 25/01/2013
Steffan Browning
CARYS MONTEATH/The Press
CONCERNED: Green MP Steffan Browning.

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The Green Party opposes the building of a port at Clifford Bay, arguing coastal shipping to existing South Island ports should be boosted instead, Green Party list MP Steffan Browning says.

The Government is investigating the relocation of the interisland port from Picton to Clifford Bay, south of Seddon, and a decision is expected in the second half of this year.

Mr Browning, a Marlborough-based Green MP, said that while the party acknowledged Clifford Bay was a direct route between Wellington and the South Island, it was not part of a national transport strategy that took into account carbon use and climate change.

"If it did that, it would encourage coastal shipping."

Rather, Tauranga should be used as the major hub for most of the freight, in the North Island's most populated area, and shipping direct to ports such as Christchurch, Timaru, Bluff or "wherever", Mr Browning said.

"If you take that into account, you wouldn't have the degree of freight for the future that would justify the cost and environmental effects of Clifford Bay.

"And then there's the economic effects on Marlborough. Seriously, if it were going to be a real progressive thing for the country, you would have to really think about the effects on Picton and have a strategy around it."

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee told the Marlborough Express this week that he did not intend to make public any of the reports the Government held on the proposed move until after a decision had been made.

Mr Browning said there needed to be deeper analysis done on the socio-economic effects for Marlborough, and there was no sign of that happening in the current government review.

"It's quite arrogant that the public don't need to know till we've made the decision and then we'll do some consulting."

The exposed nature of Clifford Bay, particularly to the northerly, would mean that a ferry terminal there would not be used in "quite a few days" a year, Mr Browning said.

There would be more days that the new port would be unusable, he said, than the number of days that crossings were cancelled because of sea conditions in Cook Strait now.

The ferries do not sail with passengers when the waves are over five metres, and all sailings are cancelled when the waves hit six metres.

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- The Marlborough Express

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