Picton would survive ferry terminal move - Brownlee

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 14:17 08/03/2013
Clifford Bay

WATER FEATURE: An artist’s impression of the Clifford Bay ferry terminal.

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Picton's economy would survive if its ferry terminal was moved to Clifford Bay, the Transport Minister says.

Gerry Brownlee today addressed the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and said no decision had been made on moving the terminal.

The controversial proposal would see the South Island's cross-straight terminal moved 50 kilometres south of Picton to Clifford Bay at a cost of $422 million.

Brownlee said if the terminal was not moved then Picton would need improved wharfage and handling facilities in a ''relatively short time''.

There is ''no do-nothing option'', he said.

Brownlee said Clifford Bay would be a challenging build due to its exposed waters and a specialist team from the ministry was ''working through the complexities''.

''Even if a decision was taken to proceed with Clifford Bay, there would be a long lead time until it was operational,'' he said.

The resource consent process could take more than two and a half years to complete and even with the ''most ambitious'' timetable, construction would not start until 2016 with expected completion in 2020.

He believed Picton could ''capitalise on its surroundings'' but said construction of a $422m port would have ''significant impact'' on the $2 billion Marlborough economy.

''As we have seen with the Canterbury rebuild, often it is the service providers to the workforce that gain the greatest benefit.''

He said the region ''must continue'' to develop its tourism potential regardless of the ferry terminal location.

''Clearly the loss of the inter-island ferry trade could have an economic impact on Picton ... Auckland's Viaduct Basin and Wynyard Quarter are good examples of how we are reclaiming the waterfront for human use.''

He acknowledged the Clifford Bay proposal was ''challenging'' for Marlborough and the rest of the country but said it was a ''debate worth having''.

He encouraged people to have an open mind and engage in discussion.

In November last year Brownlee said the project had the potential to "rewrite the transport map for the country" and allow Picton to become another Queenstown, free of a busy terminal on its waterfront.

A move to Clifford Bay 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.

The idea for a Clifford Bay terminal was floated as far back as the 1920s.

KiwiRail's predecessor, Tranz Rail, bought land at Clifford Bay in the 1990s but the plan fell away.

In 2003, Tranz Rail appointed Dutch-owned financial advisers ABN Amro to evaluate the Clifford Bay project but nothing came of it.

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