Public to discuss ferry terminal proposal

Public meetings will be held in February to discuss a proposal to move the Cook Strait ferry terminal from Picton to Clifford Bay.

The Government has yet to make a decision on the proposal, which could cost up to $422 million, but has indicated if it does go ahead it could be completed by 2020.

The feedback from each meeting will be collated into a report which will be taken back to the council.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said there was a great deal of information to draw out of the community before there was a full understanding of what a shift might mean.

"There's no doubt the impact will be significant if a decision is made to move. But what we don't yet know is the extent of the impact. The government has done some work assessing business impact but as we haven't seen that report we don't know how thorough or accurate it is. Nor do we, as a community, have an accurate picture ourselves.

"Council's role will be to draw together everything that emerges from public discussions and meetings. This is a regional issue which will affect our local economy at a number of levels. But, as a starting point, we need to enable this public discussion to begin."

The move 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.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said Christchurch would receive a major boost from the plan.

"If there is an economic benefit [of a Clifford Bay ferry terminal] Christchurch will be the single biggest beneficiary of that for sure.

"It's going to make things a lot easier to do. There's going to be faster, cheaper, more efficient access [from the North Island]."

The Press