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Media release: LPC seeking feedback on proposed channel deepening project

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) is proposing to deepen the shipping channel in Lyttelton Harbour/Te Whakaraupō in preparation for the visits of larger container ships and is now seeking feedback from Port users and the Canterbury community on its plans.

LPC Chief Executive, Peter Davie says, “Internationally, container ships have been getting bigger for many years. To accommodate these larger ships we are proposing to dredge the channel to increase its depth by 5-6 metres and deepen the container berths at the Port.

“With 99 percent of New Zealand’s freight carried by sea, and a 50 percent forecast in trade growth through Lyttelton, alongside our container volumes set to double over the next decade and double again by 2041, it is imperative that we secure a deeper draught.

“The dredging proposal is future proofing our port. We need to have the right facilities and capacity to continue to attract major international shipping lines. This gives the region’s exporters and importers access to competitive freight networks and cost effective access to markets and goods. It will also protect and grow jobs, particularly those that are export related.

Davie says the additional depth will support Lyttelton as the South Island’s major international trade gateway and develop a thriving Port for the future, providing local, national and international customers with confidence to invest and do business in Canterbury

“Dredging of the channel is not new and has occurred regularly since the first dredge came to Lyttelton Port in 1880. The harbour has a natural depth of 5 to 12 metres, but with successive dredging a shipping channel with a consistent depth of 12.5m has been formed. To allow the bigger ships to call at Lyttelton we need to create a depth of approximately 17-18 metres and widen the channel by 20 metres.

“This greater depth also means the existing channel will be lengthened by approximately 6.5 kilometres. The proposed disposal site for the sediment (spoil) from the dredging is 2.5 kilometres by 5 kilometres and is located approximately 5 kilometres off shore from Godley Head,” says Peter Davie.

“We want to ensure our community and Port users are fully informed of our proposal to deepen the channel.

“We are seeking input to ensure that all issues and concerns are considered and that the community is comfortable with the extensive environmental monitoring and protection plan we are proposing. We are also committed to protecting the health and mahinga kai values of whakaraupō and koukourārata throughout the project.”

Before any work can commence on the channel deepening project LPC must gain resource consent under the Resource Management Act to carry out the dredging and disposal.

“We plan to lodge our resource consent application by late September. We are also requesting that the consent is publicly notified. This will allow anyone to lodge a submission to the consent application.

“To date we have worked closely with community representatives, iwi, environmental and commercial groups to consult on the proposed project and to seek feedback.

As part of preparing for the resource consent LPC has invested more than $3 million, working with a range of expert scientists, to undertake investigations into any effects the proposed dredging could have.

“We have engaged a series of experts in areas including marine ecology, sea bird and marine mammals, sediment, waves and tidal modelling and water quality monitoring to carefully evaluate and mitigate potential effects of the project. We have commissioned studies by the Cawthron Institute, which at this early stage, indicate it’s very unlikely there will be any significant impact on dolphins, their food sources or the ecology of the Harbour.

“A cultural impact assessment to identify and mitigate potential effects of the project on mana whenua values and interests has been undertaken,” says Peter Davie.

“The environmental monitoring programme we put in place will be the most extensive ever undertaken on a dredge project in New Zealand and we are working alongside leading international organisations that have significant expertise in this area.

“For example, 15 real-time monitoring stations will be installed across Lyttelton Harbour / Te Whakaraupō, Port Levy/ Koukourarata and offshore marine areas to ensure we have continuous information on water quality.”

Continuous assessment of the data, coupled with weather reports and comparison to modelled scenarios, will allow the proposed dredging operations to be constantly managed and adapted to ensure environmental effects are minimised and within anticipated levels. Access to the real-time water quality information at all the locations will be available via a dedicated website.

The public is invited to see the plans and watch videos of the proposal to deepen and widen the channel, discuss the ideas and give feedback to LPC’s project team and Managers at ‘Port Talk’, the company’s information centre on the corner of London and Oxfords streets in Lyttelton, this Saturday (25 June) between 10.30am and 1pm. ‘Port Talk’ is also open every Friday from 11am to 1pm.

The public will soon be able to give feedback through the LPC website and can email feedback. The proposed plans and videos can be viewed at http://www.lpc.co.nz/port-development/projects/dredging/.

Note to Editors:
*Cawthron Institute is New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, offering a broad spectrum of services to help protect the environment and support sustainable development of primary industries. Based in the Nelson region, they work with regional councils, government departments, major industries, private companies, and other research organisations throughout New Zealand and around the world. Cawthron employs almost 200 scientists, laboratory technicians, researchers and specialist staff from more than 20 different countries.

LPC corporate office

Waterfront House, 37-39 Gladstone Quay, Lyttelton, 8082

Postal address
Private Bag 501, Lyttelton 8841, New Zealand

Phone: (+64 3) 328 8198
Email: allreceptionists@lpc.co.nz

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