Opposition, delays to Ruakura port deplored

Opposition and delays to Tainui Group Holdings' plan for an inland port at Ruakura are "indefensible" in a country desperate for jobs, says Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell.

In Hamilton for the opening of EMA Waikato's new permanent offices in the city, Auckland-based Mr Campbell said the regulatory planning delay TGH was having to contemplate was "insanity" in a country crying out for new jobs.

"The community has to decide whether it wants economic progress. This is nothing to do with banks or anyone else, it's a community decision."

Told of a group of neighbouring residents' opposition to the 300-hectare inland container and manufacturing hub, Mr Campbell said the economy "cannot be managed one house at a time".

"There may actually be some advantages, their land might become more valuable.

"It's an unfortunate byproduct of economic development and hopefully they will be compensated if compensation is due," Mr Campbell said.

"But for the greater good of the community . . . if there are 30 people in the way of such a large-scale project, what do you say to the thousands of people out of a job? They're not putting in a chemical plant. It's clean stuff, storing things."

Mr Campbell said the plan utilised the new Waikato expressway and KiwiRail in which all New Zealand taxpayers were stakeholders, and "any way you look at it, it's a good news story".

It was a Maori initiative with an intergenerational, long-term view which was an example for others.

New Zealand needed to speed up the efficient movement of product in and out of the marketplace, and with the Ports of Auckland running out of space to store containers, the inland port plan made a good business proposition and assisted Auckland logistics.

"It would be an enormous boost to the economy. It's the most basic and important piece of regional economic development I can think of," he said. andrea.fox@waikatotimes.co.nz

Waikato Times