Visit to possible port site

"We don’t want bottlenecks because of an inability on our part to make timely decisions...
"We don’t want bottlenecks because of an inability on our part to make timely decisions pertaining to infrastructure location, resilience and investment" Regional Development Minister Shane Jones. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Regional Development Minister Shane Jones will visit a possible site for an Otago inland port today after declarations that future-proofed infrastructure is essential.

Mr Jones said he was generally worried about red tape tying up important projects in delays and he was confident a planned fast-tracked consenting process would improve timely delivery of regional development.

He has not endorsed any particular proposal, but confirmed his itinerary included a visit to a potential logistics park beside Mosgiel.

"I’m going, to show a professional level of interest in a [potential] site with senior business identities, and they should expect a regional development minister at least does that," he said.

Regarding whether an inland port might best be located in Milton or Mosgiel, Mr Jones said he did not have "a local dog in the fight".

"New Zealand needs these types of developments," he said.

"We don’t want bottlenecks because of an inability on our part to make timely decisions pertaining to infrastructure location, resilience and investment."

Dunedin was a key contributor to the nation’s pastoral economy, he said.

The economy needed to be firing, providing the means to pay doctors and nurses and meet costs of the planned new city hospital, and to keep young Kiwis in New Zealand with employment opportunities.

"There’s a development dividend to be harvested," Mr Jones said.

He expected a law enabling the fast-track consenting path to be passed by the end of this year.

It would then be up to individual applicants to put up robust cases to be involved if this was the path they preferred.

The visit by Mr Jones coincides with a hearing starting today for a draft future development strategy produced by the Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council.

One subject to be explored in the next few days is whether the Dukes Rd North site in Mosgiel should be added to the strategy as a potential inland port location.

Mr Jones was careful to avoid saying what should happen at the hearing.

Southern Edge Hub Farms owns 50ha at Dukes Rd North and company director Peter Dynes has provided evidence to the future development hearing.

Mr Jones said he was catching up with him to talk about the regional economy, as well as to discuss value-added options for forestry, such as wood pellet potential.

The minister will also be hosted by Port Otago.

"Obviously, ports lie at the heart of our nation’s productivity," Mr Jones said.

He had long been concerned about the ability of ports to operate and expand getting caught up in protracted Resource Management Act processes, he said.

He also wanted to know more about oil storage capacity in and around Dunedin, as he did not want New Zealand to be vulnerable to lack of fuel resilience, Mr Jones said.

He is also the minister for oceans and fisheries, minister for resources, associate minister of finance and associate minister for energy.

About planning processes generally, Mr Jones said he was "allergic" to those captured by unrealistic views about climate change.

"New Zealand has to learn to adapt to changing weather and climate challenges, but shrillness about mitigation is not going to help us unless we have future-proofed infrastructure."

Such infrastructure was essential, he said.

He was also wary of an "excessive focus" on Treaty of Waitangi principles.