Council yet to discuss Clifford Bay plans

19:42, Dec 18 2012

Port of Marlborough has asked the Marlborough District Council to take a position on a possible interisland port at Clifford Bay so it can lobby against any move from Picton.

Councillor David Oddie told councillors on Tuesday that a director of the port company had asked him earlier if the council would take a position on the proposal, implying that it couldn't lobby without the council's backing.

Councillor Trevor Hook agreed it needed investigating, but it was too early for the council to take a position, as it didn't have the information in front of it.

The Government has received a report from the Transport Ministry about the feasibility of moving the interisland feery port from Picton to Clifford Bay.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday Mr Brownlee was reading the reports, which contained a lot of information.

They would not be made public until after they had been discussed by the Cabinet, he said.


Sources told The Marlborough Express that discussion had been pencilled in for the Cabinet on June 18, but Mr Brownlee's spokesman said no date had yet been set.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said yesterday that the council hadn't taken a position on the proposal to move the terminal to Clifford Bay.

"I'm just getting some papers now to potentially canvas with my colleagues what our position might be."

The council hadn't really got involved in the issue previously, but it did acknowledge that its wholly-owned port company would have a significant loss in revenue if the interisland ferries moved from Picton, he said.

Councillors needed more information about the proposal and its impact, Mr Sowman said. For example, while Picton would be hit, it could be good for Seddon and Ward. The port company might be involved in the operation of the new port, making up for lost Picton revenue.

"Sometimes there are opportunities. One door closes, another door might open."

The council had no indication from the Government at this stage as to what its thinking might be, he said.

The possibility of the port moving to Clifford Bay was raised by several submittors during the council's hearings of public submissions on the long-term plan last week, and again on Tuesday at the council's deliberations on the submissions.

Picton Business Group spokesman Graham Gosling asked if the council had a strategy if the ferries did move from Picton.

He said the move would have significant consequences for the profitability of the council's companies, and would seriously damage Picton and the viability of its businesses.

Even the Government raising of the proposal again hit market values in Picton.

Councillor David Dew said the council would still have the resource consent material from the initial application and councillors needed to get that information and look at it. From memory, he said, the impact in Picton and Marlborough would be "quite extreme" and councillors needed to be aware of it.

"In straight economic terms, Clifford Bay won't stack up. It will require a government subsidy to stack up."

Councillor Jessica Bagge said that if the Government decided Clifford Bay would go ahead, it would take years and years. While public meetings would need to be held quickly, there would be time to develop a strategy.

They agreed more work be done through the community and financial planning committee.

The Marlborough Express