Hawke's Bay Today

Green Party concerned about role of Napier’s port

- WHAT DO YOU THINK? Email editor@hbtoday. co.nz to have your say.

The Hawke’s Bay branch of the Green Party is concerned about the timeline for consultati­on and the decision on the future for Port of Napier.

The Regional Council doesn’t have the complete picture yet about how Hawke’s Bay will sit within a national transport strategy because that strategy is still being developed.

Investing in developing a coordinate­d freight strategy that includes coastal shipping for domestic freight is a key part of the Greens’ transport policy.

The Government has signalled strong interest in the future of New Zealand’s ports, and that it is reconsider­ing the Sea Change domestic sea freight strategy released in 2008. This document looks at coastal shipping and freight movement. With internatio­nal shipping companies increasing the size of their ships and reducing the number of ports they visit, Sea Change proposed “hub and spoke” networks. Are we in HB trying to be a hub port for larger ships when an integrated national strategy would have us as a feeder service? This may not be as big but it may be better suited to where we are in the country, our port’s natural characteri­stics and what we can afford. Bids for shipping infrastruc­ture may also be considered alongside those for road and rail within the Government’s transport strategy. We support developing local infrastruc­ture, but

HBRC needs to defer any decision making until we know what we are planning for.

Jenny Elliott and Gavin Scoble Co-convenors, Hawke’s Bay Greens

Look at other options

I am not convinced that the HBRC has canvassed all options for our port’s future and, by giving us only four options, it gives no room for the public to explore other alternativ­es or to consider the pros and cons of the proposed expansion. In the document “Our port — have your say”, it was outlined that “We expect to turn away seven cruise ships next year — representi­ng 16,500 visitors and $3.5 million of lost tourism spend.” Maybe our community does not need or want that level of expansion or growth. There is no such thing as unlimited growth and although the tourism sector may be keen for more visitors, not all of us see this level of expansion as in the best interests of our region. Our towns and cities are already struggling to replace infrastruc­ture. I accept that “doing nothing is not an option” in relation to the port, but I am concerned that the option that the council is recommendi­ng will not necessaril­y ensure we remain in control of our port.

The shareholde­r model is seldom equitable and allows those with the most power and shares to make decisions that are not always in the best interests of the community as a whole.

The HBRC has not, as far as I am aware, addressed this possibilit­y and we all know that ultimately shareholde­rs will ensure their dividend comes first. In short, I am not in favour of any of the options presented but what I do know is that I support retaining full ownership of our port. Many of us may be willing to pay higher rates if we were able to explore other creative alternativ­es.

I am also aware that we face uncertaint­y in the future with climate change affecting sea levels and impacting on port expansions. For this reason I would like to know how our regional port expansion fits with central government’s freight transport policy review Sea Change [2008] noted by Gren Christie. This may delay decision-making but better we look at the bigger picture than be rushed into a developmen­t that costs us dearly. Marilyn Scott Hastings

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