Ministry 'ignoring local impacts'

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 14:46 31/01/2013

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Results of a survey setting out the concerns of Picton business owners about the Government proposal to move the ferry terminal to Clifford Bay appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

A Ministry of Transport spokesman said Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee had acknowledged only that he had received the survey results, sent to him by Picton businesswoman Sarah O'Bryan.

The government investigation into the commercial viability of operating a ferry port at Clifford Bay would not look any deeper at the potential economic impact on Marlborough, the spokesman said.

Ms O'Bryan is manager of Picton Village Bakkerij. Her survey shows most respondents felt less confident about the future if the ferry terminal was moved away from Picton.

She surveyed 27 Picton business owners between December 22 and January 22 to gauge their feelings on the government investigation because she felt the ministry and its consultants had ignored their worries.

The ministry spokesman said they had "received and noted" Ms O'Bryan's survey report, but the scope of the government's investigation would not include any further assessment of the possible impact on Marlborough. None of the government reports will be released until a decision has been made on shifting the ferry terminal from Picton to Clifford Bay.

The Marlborough District Council is holding a series of public meetings during February and will report back to the ministry.

Mr Brownlee said last week the project team was focusing on the commercial viability and would report to him later in the year.

Kaikoura MP Colin King said the best way to communicate people's concerns was through further meetings between the district council, the ministry and its project team. He could also be involved in those meetings.

"There's no intention to railroad anything through," he said. "This is going to be a process-driven step-by-step impact report.

"My role as MP is to ensure the interests of Marlborough and Picton, in particular to this survey, remain uppermost in the minds of government."

Ms O'Bryan said she was disappointed by the lack of a government response to the survey and questioned the ministry's ability to adequately research the proposal. "It is no surprise to me that the ministry is continuing to ignore the local commercial, social and environmental impacts."

The ministry was "putting the cart before the horse" by failing to open itself to direct consultation with the community until after it had made a decision and it was forgetting that any economic effects in the region would be linked to any national benefits. "Without full exploration of the local effects, how can the ministry be sure that the benefits and costs don't cancel each other out - with tens of thousands of people affected, some for the better, and some for the worse?"

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She suggested the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment would be a better lead agency for the investigation because the effects were greater than a transport issue. The Ministry of Transport could be consulted on the viability of the infrastructure and economic effects from a transport point of view, she said.

The survey remains open until February 25.

LINK TO SARAH O'BRYANS REPORT Clifford Bay Ferry Terminal Relocation - Effects on Picton Business and Community

 

- The Marlborough Express

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