Northport should be developed to take on much or all of Auckland’s existing and projected future freight business as significant growth is projected for New Zealand’s freight needs, a report has recommended.
Released by the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Working Group, the report identifies that the Port of Auckland’s CBD freight operation is no longer economically or environmentally viable and is constrained by landslide infrastructure failure.
Figures published from the Ministry of Transport in 2017 predicted that New Zealand’s freight needs will grow by 55% in 2042 from 237m tonnes in 2012/13 to 366m tonnes in 2042/43.
Accounting for 75% of transport, road haulage remains dominant and the Auckland region generates the largest tonnage of freight moved.
Within 15 years, one container truck would be leaving the port’s gates into Auckland’s already gridlocked traffic every 23 seconds, worsening to one every 16 seconds by 2049.
The report states: “It is increasingly obvious that continuing to fund the status quo will result in continued and worsening inefficiency in freight movement, as well as poor social and well-being outcomes for Aucklanders and Northlanders alike.”
The Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Working Group has suggested that in addition to Northport being developed to take on the freight demand, the Port of Tauranga’s existing expansion plans should proceed to accommodate growth.
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.
The Working Group’s judgement is that the traffic solution around Northport and, to a lesser extent, Tauranga is more manageable especially with the rail-supported port configuration it has recommended.
The Board of Northport Ltd has welcomed the decision and its chairman, Murray Jagger, explained that the facility has a “very clear vision” of the role it can play.
He added: “Significant growth is possible here. We have been clear for many years that we stand ready to assist in any way we can to support Auckland’s growth and the aspirations that Aucklanders have for their waterfront.
“We have been making headway with plans to enhance our ability to handle a substantial increase in the volume of container traffic crossing our wharf, while working on a vision for the total overhaul of the new and used-car business model. At the heart of which stands the immense amount of development land on our doorstep.”
Northport has also been working closely with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to develop a concept for a shipyard and floating dry dock facility to support the maintenance requirements of both navy and commercial shipping.
Jagger said that he hoped to convene a meeting of the chairs of all three companies involved – Northport, Port of Tauranga and Ports of Auckland to create a “win-win situation” for New Zealand.