After a large volume of scientific research and almost two-years of pre-consultation with the community, Napier Port has reached a huge milestone in the development of its proposed wharf and dredging project.
Today the port lodged its resource consent application with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council - which if granted would allowed the 350m wharf to be built when cargo demand and increasing ship size warrant it.
Napier Port chairman Alasdair MacLeod says cargo volumes across the port are likely to nearly double over the next decade and Napier Port needs to develop its facilities to handle that growth on behalf of the region.
“Napier Port is critical to Hawke’s Bay’s economy – we’re associated with 27,000 full and part-time jobs and more than half of the gross regional product,” Mr MacLeod says.
“Until now, we’ve been able to handle the steady growth in cargo across our existing wharves. However, Hawke’s Bay’s economy is thriving and eventually we’ll need a sixth wharf to meet cargo demand and cater for the larger ships coming to New Zealand.”
The new container wharf and dredging of the shipping channel to handle larger ships will cost around $125 million. However, over the next ten years, a total of $275 million needs to be invested to ensure Napier Port remains relevant and competitive.
Due to steady growth and the need for investment in recent years, Napier Port’s debt at the end of its 2017 financial year was $83 million.
“To fund the development prudently, we need to reduce that debt by either requesting dividend relief from our owners, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (which is owned by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council), or securing additional investment,” Mr MacLeod says.
Napier Port has worked hard with key stakeholders to refine the proposed design to provide the best environmental outcomes, including a decision to move the proposed dredge material disposal area to 5km offshore rather than using the existing consented inshore site used for its maintenance dredging programmes.
“We’ve heard the views of the community and engaged local and international experts to complete a number of specialist technical studies. We now know more than ever about our marine environment and how to manage it better,” says Mr MacLeod.
After HBRC has reviewed the application, it will be publicly notified before being assessed by independent commissioners. In the meantime, Napier Port has a feedback portal to answer any questions or hear further views from the community.
The feedback portal is: http://projects.napierport.co.nz/feedback/