Opinion: proposed inland port would be beneficial

The proposed Otago inland port has made it into the news lately.

Port Otago is running out of space at Port Chalmers and the long-mooted alternative is being scoped out.

Inland ports, or inland facilities for accumulating goods to be railed to a port, are commonplace elsewhere and lead to efficiencies in logistics. They take freight trucks off our city roads and get the logs and other bulk primary exports on to the rail network. A win for all.

Mosgiel is the preferred site for the port and partners and I recently hosted my New Zealand First colleague Shane Jones to discuss available options.

Like many things it is not quite so simple. An inland port in Mosgiel is only really viable with a heavy traffic bypass, nominally for Gordon Rd. Along with a hefty price tag. Without that it is a licence to clog up Mosgiel traffic.

Enter stage left the contender, Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan’s passionate advocacy for Milburn, just North of Milton.

Plenty of flat open space and an already consented proposition. Not as close to the port but with ready access to the rail network and no residential impost.

Both suggestions have merit, strengths and weaknesses. This is an important piece of regional infrastructure with a long-term time horizon. I am actively involved with Dunedin City Council, Clutha District Council, and Otago Regional Council trying to work through the options.

We need to get this right. Projects such as this one are crucial for economic development and New Zealand First has always been a champion for the regions.