11 Aug 2020

Ports of Auckland gets green light to deepen shipping channel despite controversy

8:31 pm on 11 August 2020

Ports of Auckland has today been granted consent to deepen Auckland's shipping channel.

Auckland, New Zealand - May 25, 2017:  Aerial view of the port of Auckland New Zealand.

An aerial view of part of the Ports of Auckland. Photo: 123RF

The port's application drew more than 200 public submissions to the Auckland Council - 194 in opposition and 13 in support.

The controversy stepped up a notch when the council recommended 116 of the opposing submissions be struck out as these raised issues that were outside of the project's scope, such as where the dredged material is to be disposed of.

Today, the port said in a written statement that the consent allowed the channel to be deepened from 12.5 metres to between 14m and 14.2m.

It said the consent safeguarded Auckland's international supply line by allowing larger container ships to enter, such as 366m-long New Panamax vessels with a maximum draft of 15.2m.

It added that tides would be used to make best use of the natural water depth and keep dredging to a minimum.

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said a deeper channel would ensure Auckland's port could continue operations for decades.

"By allowing larger ships to reach the port, it will also reduce carbon emissions and the cost of transporting Auckland's freight."

According to the statement, the consent process was unusual because Ports of Auckland asked for the application to be publicly notified even though it was not required, so people could have their say on the project.

Over 200 submissions were received with the main concern raised being the disposal of dredged material.

Ports of Auckland acknowledged that was a genuine concern and it said it was committed to working with key submitters to look for ways to reduce or even eliminate the need for sea disposal.

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