MP believes Clifford Bay will get inter-island nod

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:30 03/10/2012
Colin King
MP Colin King believes the inter-island port will move from Picton to Clifford Bay

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Clifford Bay

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Kaikoura MP Colin King believes the inter-island port will move from Picton to Clifford Bay, south of Seddon, but will not say when.

Rising volumes of freight would make it physically impossible to keep the port in Picton, he told the Marlborough Express.

"There is no doubt around it in my mind. It will have to happen as our volumes of cargo, freight, keep on going up in projections there are at the moment. It will be physically impossible to cope with it.

"We need to look at major alternatives."

Mr King said it was unclear when the move would happen. It could be in 10 years, or 30 years.

The Government is investigating moving the terminal to Clifford Bay.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee received an interim briefing from the Transport Ministry and a draft business case on June 1, and a briefing and detailed business case was received on August 30, according to information provided during questions in Parliament.

Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson, on behalf of Mr Brownlee, said that material was "under active consideration" and the minister had asked for more work to be done.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Brownlee said that work was continuing and no announcement was pending.

It has been more than a year since then-transport minister Steven Joyce decided the proposal should be thoroughly explored and a decision made once and for all.

Mr King said it was a "very complex" situation.

The proposal had been around for about 50 years, and the Government was determined to have a look at it, he said.

"Gerry Brownlee is determined to ensure it is well looked at . . . It is pretty clear a lot of it [the initial business case] needed more work done."

Mr King said there were environmental limitations to using the Cook Strait ferries in the Marlborough Sounds.

"It's prudent for the Government to have an alternative."

Interislander and Strait Shipping ferries had resource consent to take their ships through Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound at 18 knots, which enabled them to run a 24-hour schedule, but Mr King said those approvals would come off in 2015.

From then, the companies would have to go through the same consent process again which had difficulties, he said, or reduce speed and drop a trip a day, which was unsustainable for the businesses.

Concerns about the effects of a potential move have been aired by the Picton community, Port of Marlborough and the Marlborough District Council, particularly since much of the work has been done without involving Marlborough people.

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- The Marlborough Express

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