Port ponders $30m cost of Picton wharf replacement
Port Marlborough is considering building a $30 million replacement wharf for cruise ships and freight.
The new wharf would replace the Waitohi wharf, which was about 100 years old and "rotten", according to Marlborough District Councillor David Oddie.
Responding to comments by mayoral candidate Jamie Arbuckle about his plans to "upgrade" Waitohi wharf at a candidates' meeting in Havelock on Tuesday night, Mr Oddie said Waitohi wharf was "rotten" and needed to be replaced. He said $110m was required to build another wharf at the other side of the reclamation. He contacted The Marlborough Express yesterday to say the figure was actually $30m.
Port Marlborough chief executive Ian McNabb said there were no firm plans at this stage, but he confirmed the port company was planning for the future and considering different options.
Mr McNabb said parts of Picton's Waitohi wharf were more than 100 years old.
"There are some structural issues with the facility. Impact comes from the size of vessels using the facility and its age and design which probably makes it obsolete from bulk and container cargo use."
He said the port company continued to plan to provide economic wharf facilities that would provide cost-effective options for its customers and potential customers.
The location of these potential facilities were not set in stone, nor have the economics been proven sufficiently to justify what would be a significant financial capital investment, he said.
"Weave into this the uncertainty of the Clifford Bay decision which certainly has to weave into this scenario, it makes for a very protracted business case analysis," Mr McNabb said.
Mr Arbuckle has been campaigning on upgrading Waitohi wharf, to handle cruise ships and to install a crane to shift freight, rather than have goods trucked over the hill to Nelson.
He told a candidates' meeting in Renwick last week there was a proposal that had been held over for the council to consider after the election.
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman, when asked by The Express about Mr Arbuckle's comments, said it was premature to talk about the proposal.
"It is a decision about the future plan for the port. They have some ideas but we need to see what happens with Clifford Bay."
Mr Sowman said there was a suggestion from the wine and timber industries that they could have better facilities at Picton to save them going to Nelson, but that had a "huge cost".
"It's something the port company is going to do a business case on. It would be presented to council after the election."
Mr Sowman said the idea had been raised before and a business case had been asked for to support it.
"It is premature at the moment with Clifford Bay up in the air. I'm a little surprised he's raised it now. It's not a new idea, but the timing has to be right," he said.
Mr Oddie said any wharf replacement would have to handle freight as well as cruise ships, because cruise ships alone wouldn't be economic.
"There's no point in making grand statements if you can't make it into something viable . . . unless we can get containers over the wharf or something, it's not a viable business case."
- The Marlborough Express