Saturday, July 20, 2024

Council approves $110m ferry precinct loan

Marlborough District Council has approved a loan of up to $110 million to Port Marlborough to finance its share of the Waitohi Picton Ferry Precinct Redevelopment.

Mayor John Leggett said after considering public submissions, Councillors had decided that the best option was for the Council to raise the loan through its existing arrangement with the New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency.

“If Port Marlborough had sought financing through private lending, the interest rate would have been quite a lot higher. That means it would have taken longer to service the loan and also lowered the dividends the Council receives from the Port each year,” he said.

“I want the public to know that this is a very good deal for Marlborough ratepayers and residents. The loan will not increase rates or costs for ratepayers. In fact it will do the opposite and progressively increase the Port dividend paid to Council by up to $3 million a year for the next 10 years, and see the loan repaid within 30 years.”

The decision to go ahead with the loan was subject to:

  • Council being satisfied with the legal agreements between KiwiRail and Port Marlborough;
  • the agreement of KiwiRail to fund the Dublin Street overbridge (less any subsidy from Waka Kotahi NZTA); and
  • agreement being reached between KiwiRail, Port Marlborough and Council on the upgrade of the Waitohi River culverts.

Mayor Leggett said the new ferries and redeveloped ferry precinct would bring significant benefits to Waitohi Picton and the wider Marlborough community.

“The new ferry precinct will strengthen Waitohi Picton as the gateway to the South Island and hub for the Marlborough Sounds. It will improve connections with State Highway 1 and will enable KiwiRail to carry more freight in and out of the South Island.”

He noted the Cook Strait crossing was a strategic national asset connecting the North and South islands, providing the vital key for New Zealand’s freight, transport and tourism infrastructure.  

“The ferries are also significant economically for Marlborough and the upper South Island. Each year, the Cook Strait ferries operate over 6,000 services, transport over one million passengers, 400,000 cars and up to three million lane metres of freight. Those numbers are forecast to increase.”

“They also provide a tourism experience bringing in money, visitors and supporting jobs in Waitohi Picton. Freight tonnage in New Zealand is expected to increase significantly and KiwiRail sees the rail network playing a role in supporting this growth.”

“I look forward to seeing this exciting project take shape,” he said.

Council said 26 six public submissions had been received. The consultation period ran from 17 December 2021 to 4 February 2022 and included hearings.

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