29 Mar 2012

Lyttelton port scraps coal yard expansion plan

1:26 pm on 29 March 2012

Earthquake repairs are being given priority over a plan for a $25 million expansion of Lyttelton Port's coal yards that has been put on hold.

In 2011, the Government fast- tracked the use of quake rubble to reclaim land at Te Awaparahi Bay, east of the port, in a move opposed by many locals worried about contamination of the harbour.

Work on expanding Lyttelton Port's coal yards began two years ago and was aimed at providing more space for the stockpiling of coal from the West Coast.

But just getting the port back to where it was before the earthquakes has been difficult enough, with the port's insurer refusing to pay out on part of its claim.

The port says its biggest customer, Solid Energy, is understanding of why the coal yard can't be expanded at this time.

Solid Energy declined to be interviewed by Radio New Zealand but a spokesperson says putting the project on hold will not constrain them in the short or medium term.

It is understood the expansion was first conceived of as a way to handle extra coal due to come out of the Pike River mine on the West Coast.