Seddon-ites hope port will boom

About 40 people attended a meeting in the Awatere Memorial Hall in Seddon to discuss the Clifford Bay ferry port proposal
About 40 people attended a meeting in the Awatere Memorial Hall in Seddon to discuss the Clifford Bay ferry port proposal

Seddon residents have been urged to look at the opportunities from shifting the ferry terminal from Picton to Clifford Bay rather than focusing on the negatives.

About 40 people attended a meeting in the Awatere Memorial Hall in Seddon yesterday, organised by the Marlborough District Council to get views on the Government plan to move the interisland terminal to Clifford Bay, between Seddon and Ward.

The positive tone of the meeting was in marked contrast to comments from residents and business people at Picton on Monday night, the first of four meetings the council is holding this week. The third meeting was in Blenheim last night, and the final one in Havelock today.

Rachael van Asch
Rachael van Asch

Rachael van Asch, of Redwood Pass, said yesterday the development might bring a new hall for Seddon, an upgraded water supply and more pupils at the schools.

A rail trail could be built between Clifford Bay and Picton if this section of the line closed, Mrs van Asch said.

Seddon businesswoman Trish Redwood said if people had been asked a few years ago whether grapes were a good idea for the district, they would have said "hell no". But Seddon was better off with grapes and problems around the port proposal could also be overcome.

"The natural order of things has changed."

Seddon farmer Bruce Pattie said Picton people had known about plans to shift the port since the mid-1990s so had had plenty of time to adjust.

People might think $420 million to build the Clifford Bay port was a lot of money, he said.

However, the savings if the Interislander could run two rather than three ships on a shorter, faster sailing might come close to covering the cost.

Pete Davison, of Clifford Rd, which leads to the proposed port, bought land there when the port proposal was raised about 1996. Almost 20 years later he was "too decrepit" to capitalise on the investment but had enjoyed waiting.

Noel Donelley, of Dashwood, worked 30 years at ports around New Zealand and welcomed the project. But he acknowledged that working in the dark with 15-year-old plans was difficult. Final designs would be very different, he said.

Ward businessman Dennis Burkhart said the town had been designed for expansion and there were plenty of sections waiting for the port to be built, which could be a 30-year project.

Picton businessman John Reuhman said he had not dared to raise his support for Clifford Bay at the Picton meeting on Monday.

"Picton is a bitchy community and does not have an external focus," he said.

Building the port would be "an absolute El Dorado" for Marlborough, Mr Reuhman said.

A massive quantity of goods would be shipped to and from Canterbury.

Concerns raised at the meeting included supplying the port with water, and who would pay for this; the tsunami risk at Clifford Bay; the need for endless dredging; disruption to the neighbouring Dominion Salt works; and the loss of peace and quiet in the area.

The Marlborough Express