Rivals to site port hubs at Rolleston

Last updated 05:00 06/03/2014

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Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) is defending its turf, announcing it will develop a more than $20 million inland port at Rolleston.

Yesterday's news comes hot on the heels of a similar investment announced by rival Port of Tauranga (Pot) in mid-January. Tauranga plans to invest $20 million in an "inland port" at Izone industrial Park in Rolleston to steer exports and imports to its half-owned Timaru port, and hopes to be operational by the third quarter of 2014.

Canterbury truckies and exporters are welcoming competition that will come between two multi-million dollar inland port developments.

Lyttelton Port (LPC) yesterday said it had conditionally bought 27 hectares adjacent to the main south rail line near Rolleston, southwest of Christchurch, for the development of a second inland port.

Chief executive Peter Davie said the total project driven by customer demand would cost LPC more than $20m.

"We've been looking at pieces of land out in that area for a couple of years now . . . we've now got the right piece of land," he said.

The site was within a couple of kilometres of the rival Port of Tauranga site. Davie said council consent work was still to be done in the next couple of months for a start to development this year.

LPC, almost 80 per cent owned by the Christchurch City Council, and listed on the NZX, already has an inland container handling site at CityDepot in Woolston.

The proposed new site would be connected by rail to both CityDepot and the Lyttelton container terminal and substantially decrease the number of truck movements down Brougham St, Davie said. There were strong links in Rolleston to dairy suppliers.

"With so much of the manufacturing base now being in the west of the city and the southwest we see it as an important strategic staging post for us," Davie said.

Lengthy queues at Lyttelton port last year and over the Christmas-New Year period caused frustration amongst truckies, some of whom suggested an extra inland hub might help reduce the delays to pick up and drop off freight. Rolleston was a good location for a second inland port with strong links to dairy suppliers, he said.

David Boyce, chief executive at NZ Trucking Association, said he welcomed the two hubs to be provided by Lyttelton and Tauranga. "I think it will be good for local industry and transport operators, certainly," he said.

Chris Greenough, chief executive of Kotahi, which manages around 40 per cent of New Zealand export container freight, said the export company would equally use LPC's or Port of Tauranga-Timaru's planned facilities, noting there had been congestion at Lyttelton. Kotahi would take a wait and see approach as to whether two extra inland ports was too much in terms of extra capacity, he said.

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- BusinessDay

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