A REPORT by the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Working Group has recommended closing the Ports of Auckland CBD freight operation.

The report examined the issues around the future of Auckland and argued to move freight operations from Auckland to Northport and the continued development of the Port of Tauranga.

“Ports of Auckland’s CBD freight operation is no longer economically or environmentally viable, and is constrained by landside infrastructure failure,” the report stated.

“It is in the interests of taxpayers and ratepayers that it be progressively closed and the land it currently occupies be progressively rezoned for higher and better uses.”

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The work was led by an independent working group of experts who reported to the Ministers of Finance, Transport, and Regional Development.

Other recommendations were:

  • Northport should be developed to take over much or all of Auckland’s existing and projected future freight business
  • Port of Tauranga’s existing expansion plans should proceed to accommodate growth.
  • Auckland’s cruise ship terminal should be modernised
  • The new two-port configuration should be supported by a rejuvenated North Auckland rail line and spur to Northport, and a new inland freight hub in northwest Auckland to complement and be connected to Metroport in the south
  • This transition should begin immediately and be fully completed by no later than 2034, fifteen years hence, with a stretch target of 2029.
  • The government should announce a timetable for the government infrastructure projects necessary to support it
  • The government should give the ports and their owners until 1 December 2020 to reach commercial agreement on how the strategy is to be implemented.
  • The government should announce a backstop that, if commercial agreement is not reached by 1 December 2020, it will introduce legislation to Parliament to reform the Port Companies Act 1988 and take all other necessary steps to make our recommendations happen.

The report contrasts with a study prepared for the Ports of Auckland that said closing the CBD port would increase the total cost of imports by between NZ $533m and $626m a year, as well as leading to more carbon emissions due to more freight being shifted onto road.

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