17 Oct 2016

Waitematā Harbour walkway consent put on hold

5:38 pm on 17 October 2016

Auckland Council development agency Panuku has delayed a resource consent application for a proposed mooring off Queens Wharf, while it replies to the new mayor's questions.

The proposed mooring dolphin and gangway.

An resource consent application for the proposed mooring 'dolphin' and walkway has been put on hold for 20 days. Photo: Boffa Miskell Visual Assessment Report

The walkway - part of plan to accommodate giant cruise ships - has come under fire from the local board and activists.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff was unaware of the plan until contacted by RNZ, and had demanded a report from Panuku weighing up less intrusive alternatives.

The development would entail a walkway being built from the end of Queens Wharf to a proposed mooring structure, known as a dolphin, which is part of a short-term answer to berthing new-generation cruise ships too long for the wharves.

The proposed structure would cost ratepayers between $10 million and $12m.

The resource consent application was lodged by the council on 30 September, eight days before Mr Goff was elected mayor.

A spokesperson for Panuku said it had been asked by the mayor's office to prepare a report outlining the options that were considered.

It has asked for the resource consent application to be put on hold for 20 days while it responds to the mayor's questions.

An artist's impression of the proposed mooring dolphin and gangway on Queens Wharf.

An artist's impression of the proposed mooring on Queens Wharf. Photo: Boffa Miskell Visual Assessment Report

Ports of Auckland said two cruise ships would need the new mooring during the 2017/2018 season for four visits, with the first visit by the 384m-long Ovation of the Seas expected this summer.

Because of its size it has to anchor in the harbour and its passengers will be ferried ashore.

Ports of Auckland said the walkway was needed as an escape route for staff tying up the ships.

Two further large ships were tentatively booked for 10 visits, if the dolphin was finished in time for the next cruise season.

Council needs to consider all alternatives - activist group

Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Shane Vuletich said up to $12m for four cruise ship visits did not seem feasible.

He said nearby Bledisloe Wharf should be used until a more permanent solution was found.

"What we'd like to see is a comprehensive cost analysis to weigh up the benefits of accommodating the small number of visits against the $10m to $12m cost of putting the dolphin into the harbour."

Mr Vuletich said the council needed to consider all alternatives for berthing the larger ships before putting more concrete into the harbour.

"Bledisloe Wharf is sitting there, the port uses that to bring cars into the city, but we're talking about a few additional ship visits a year," he said.

"What I would like to see is some political leadership around whether or not they could be accommodated at Bledisloe Wharf."

The location of the proposed mooring dolphin within the Auckland CBD waterfront area.

The location of the proposed structure within central Auckland's waterfront. Photo: Supplied

Earlier, Waitematā Local Board chair Shale Chambers said he hoped the new mayor would stop the walkway before it got to a resource consent hearing.

"It's a nice-to-have, it comes with a considerable cost, but my personal view and the view of the board is that in the current environment it's unnecessary."

Last year thousands of people took part in protests against a planned 100m extension of Bledisloe Wharf into the harbour.

The public will be able to have a say from tomorrow, when submissions open on the proposal.

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