PORTS of Auckland has been granted consent to deepen Auckland’s shipping channel.

The consent allows the channel to be deepened from 12.5 metres to between 14 metres and 14.2 metres.

According to POAL, the project safeguards Auckland’s “vital international supply line” by allowing bigger box ships to enter Auckland’s port, such as 366metre new Panamax vessels with a top draft of 15.2 metres.

Tidal windows are to be used to make best use of the natural water depth and minimise dredging.

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Ports of Auckland’s chief executive Tony Gibson said the COVID-19 lockdown highlighted the essential role Auckland’s port plays in the economy.

“A deeper channel will ensure Auckland’s port can continue that essential role for decades,” Mr Gibson said.

“By allowing larger ships to reach the port, it will also reduce carbon emissions and the cost of transporting Auckland’s freight.”

According to POAL, the consent process was unusual because Ports of Auckland asked for the application to be publicly notified even though it was not required, so people could have their say.

More than 200 submissions were received with the main concern raised being the disposal of dredged material.

“Ports of Auckland acknowledges that this is a genuine concern and is committed to working with key submitters to look for ways to reduce or even eliminate the need for sea disposal,” Mr Gibson said.

A debate is occurring within New Zealand about the future of the Port of Auckland, with a report issued last year making the case for Northport at Marsden Point.

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