Clifford Bay called risky option
The controversial proposal to relocate the interisland ferry terminal from Picton should be abandoned because the intended new port is at the epicentre of the latest earthquake swarm, say opponents.
The proposal would see the ferry terminal moved to Clifford Bay at an estimated cost of at least $422 million.
The move could cut up to 80 minutes off a road-ferry trip between Wellington and Christchurch, and up to 110 minutes off a rail-ferry journey.
However, Port Marlborough chief executive Ian McNabb said the earthquakes during the past six days highlighted why it should not go ahead.
"I just don't think it makes any sense, financially or now when we start looking at some of the physical environment.
"You really start to scratch your head."
It raised two questions - who would insure it and who would fund it, he said.
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman also questioned whether the Government had considered the potential dangers of earthquakes and tsunamis in Clifford Bay.
He believed it would play a "major" part in the decision.
While the council was neutral on the proposal, Mr Sowman was looking for reassurance that if it went ahead they would be able to mitigate all of the social, economic and environmental impacts.
But residents in the Clifford Bay area say the earthquakes should not affect plans to relocate the ferry terminal.
Pete Davison, of Clifford Rd which leads to the proposed port, said all New Zealand would benefit by moving the port.
The earthquakes were nothing new in the area, but as long as the proper geotechnical work was done then ultimately it would benefit everyone in the area.
Another local resident said the majority of farmers in the area supported the proposal as it made sense economically.
As long as buildings were built to the correct standards then it should go ahead, he said.
A Ministry of Transport report on the commercial viability of the project is expected to delivered to Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee later this year.
Kaikoura MP Colin King said the report would most likely include a note urging Mr Brownlee to consider the seismic activity in the area.
Mr Brownlee and his associate minister Michael Woodhouse are both overseas and not available for comment.
A ministry spokesman said a preliminary view of how the ferry terminal and associated infrastructure could be constructed had been prepared, and this included a review of previous geotechnical work.
"The relatively minor damage incurred in Wellington and Marlborough during the past week demonstrates that modern structures are designed and constructed to a high standard of compliance, taking performance requirements in earthquakes into account."
- The Marlborough Express
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