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Lyttelton Port of Christchurch Investing for Growth

Posted on August 1, 2016

By Peter Townsend, stuff

OPINION: I spent some time in Lyttelton last weekend. It is a remarkable community steeped in history and with an eclectic retail and hospitality offering.

Of course, it is a community completely integrated with our port.

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) is in one of the most exciting stage of development in its history as it rebuilds and enhances the port to meet Canterbury’s increasing freight demands and ensure it has the capacity and capability required for the future.

The port is a vital strategic asset with an essential role in Canterbury’s growth and the recovery of Christchurch.

The port is the gateway for South Island trade. It manages 56 per cent of the South Island’s total import/exports and its volume growth is forecast to increase at greater than GDP levels throughout the next 30 years, from over 370,000 TEU (20 foot containers) to about 1.2 million TEU a year by 2043.

Its billion dollar redevelopment features more than 20 large projects which are either underway or being planned.

Together, these will create a thriving port for the future. All the projects are inter-related and the success of each is imperative for the overall success of the planned development.

The port needs to have the right facilities and capacity to continue to attract major international shipping lines. This gives the region’s exporters and importers access to completive freight networks and cost effective access to markets and goods.

The port’s redevelopment provides local, national and international customers with confidence to invest and do business in Canterbury.

The Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan is the blueprint for the journey ahead. It was developed with extensive community feedback and engagement. The public were overwhelmingly supportive of the port’s plans and LPC remains committed to engaging the community.

A key focus is moving port operations to the east onto land being reclaimed in the west in Te Awaparahi Bay. This will free up parts of the inner harbour for public access. The aim is to redevelop Dampier Bay to create an engaging and vibrant waterfront for the enjoyment of locals and visitors and provide a new 200 berth marina with modern amenities.

Already this year we have seen the port achieve major milestones in its development. In June MidlandPort, LPC’s new inland port at Rolleston, opened providing a rail connection for container freight with Lyttelton Port.

It is a step change in container freight efficiency for the region and in supporting Canterbury and the South Island’s long term trade growth. It is strategically positioned at the intersection of major arterial transport routes to offer shippers in the region unprecedented connectivity throughout the South Island and rail access to all points west and south of Rolleston.

It also supports better supply chain efficiency, particularly for central Canterbury importers and exporters. It supports the increasing productivity from the Canterbury plains, primarily the export growth driven by increased irrigation, and the freight increases forecast following the completion of the southern motorway.

Transporting containers by rail reduces truck traffic congestion on roads round Christchurch and travel delays, effectively taking 40 to 80 truck trips off our roads every day.

Another milestone development was the opening in February of the port’s new $85 million Cashin Quay 2 wharf. It is an example of how the port is increasing capacity and growing container trade as it plans to meet the challenge of the next 30 years.

It supports Lyttelton being the international freight port for the South Island, doubling container berth capacity. Already there is significant improvement in ship turn-around times.

A key part of the big picture is the port’s preparation for a large forecasted increase in freight and the arrival of bigger vessels carrying more containers. As well as needing deeper berths and more space, the new larger, heavier vessels will also need a deeper, wider, navigation channel.

The port has announced its proposed shipping channel deepening project and began the process of engaging with the public to seek feedback before submitting a resource consent application in September.

Internationally, container ships have been getting bigger for many years. To accommodate these larger ships the port is proposing to dredge the channel to increase its depth by 5 to 6 metres.

With 99 per cent of New Zealand’s freight carried by sea, and a 50 per cent forecast in trade growth through Lyttelton, alongside Lyttelton’s container volumes set to double over the next decade and double again by 2041, it is imperative the port secure a deeper draught.

Dredging of the harbour’s channel is not new and has occurred regularly since the first dredge came to Lyttelton Port in 1880. The harbour has a natural depth of 5 to 12m, but with successive dredging a shipping channel with a consistent depth of 12.5m has been formed.

To allow the bigger ships to call at Lyttelton requires a depth of approximately 17m to 18m and increasing the channel width by 20m.

The port is seeking community input to ensure the public is comfortable with the plan. It is proposing extensive environmental monitoring and a protection plan.

It is committed to protecting the health of marine mammals, the harbour’s environment and ecology and the mahinga kai values of whakaraupo and koukourarata throughout the project.

As part of preparing for the resource consent LPC has invested more than $3m, working with a range of expert scientists, to undertake investigations into any effects the proposed dredging could have.

The port’s future is as the hub for Canterbury and South Island freight so it can support New Zealand’s economy and prosperity. It has started a journey that will ensure the region has a modern thriving port servicing the region over the next 30 years that is well connected to the community and supports a healthy harbour environment.

It is important the community it serves understand the value of the port to them and their region and supports its plans for the future.

Peter Townsend is the chief executive of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.

Source: stuff

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