A report set to be released to Parliament next week shows Whangarei is the most favoured place to relocate part of Auckland’s Devonport naval base.
The Auckland dry dock is no longer fit for purpose and the Regional Economic Development Minister and the Minister of Defence say they have now got a strong case for it to be moved north.
“We have allocated a couple of million dollars to initiate the relocation of part of the navel base out of Devonport to the north,” Shane Jones said today.
With the dry dock at the Devonport naval base now being too small for many modern ships and with the naval fleet growing, the Government is considering other options.
“The report shows that the north is an ideal site for the dry dock facility – Auckland’s congested and not only do we want the Auckland ports to move north we want the naval base to look north too,” said Mr Jones.
Speaking to Northland business leaders at Ruakaka, Mr Jones says a new multi-million-dollar dry dock could be a win-win for the region.
“Commerce wants it, the military wants it and there’s enormous amount of business on both sides of the Tasman that could very well turn it into a commercial success,” he added.
Chairman of the Ruakaka Economic Development group Peter Batten says the north has been neglected long enough.
“This is what we’ve been wanting for a long time the employment rate the housing rate everything up here is you know so far behind. We’ve been neglected for far too long.”
A larger facility would mean ships including the Interislander ferries could be serviced in New Zealand rather than sent to Australia or Asia.
“It will benefit all of New Zealand,” says Wayne Brown from Upper North island Supply Chains Strategy Group.
“But it will benefit locally in Whangarei.”
KiwiRail says a new dry dock and the presence of the navy will require much better roading infrastructure, but the Government is yet to approve plans to build a direct rail line here to Marsden Point.
The report on the dry dock will be handed to cabinet next week.