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Lawrence-based NZ First list MP Mark Patterson said yesterday he supported the establishment of an "inland port" at Milburn, in South Otago.
An inland port provides a remote storage hub for export goods such as logs and frozen produce, linking a region’s production zones and sea port.
Mr Patterson said the $1.2 billion funding for KiwiRail announced in the recent Budget could help provide the upgraded rail network essential for such a facility.
The Government’s draft New Zealand Rail Plan, published in December last year and expected to be finalised shortly, has identified Milburn as a preferred site, servicing Port Otago.
Mr Patterson said the area was a natural crossroads between Central Otago, Southland and Dunedin, and had a "compelling case" for selection.
"The studies have shown we need to move additional freight on to rail, and this idea has the support of both Dunedin and Clutha [councils].
"Experience elsewhere shows that where you have an inland port, major industry follows, so this could be a game-changer for Clutha."
On June 11, Clutha District Council is expected to finalise the rezoning of more than 330ha of land between Milton and Milburn to industrial.
Businesses including Calder Stewart and Pan Pac Forest Products already adjoin the land.
Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the rezoning would allow Milton and surrounds to "fully realise their potential".
"The zonal changes and financial investment we’re now making in Milton are building blocks we’re laying for a more vibrant future for the district.
"We’ve maintained for a long time Milton has Clutha’s greatest potential for growth. If ever we needed that potential realised, it’s now."