The project is assessing the proposed container terminal’s economic and logistical feasibility.

If a terminal is developed, it will open up opportunities for Kawerau businesses and the wider Eastern Bay, with increased connectivity allowing them better access to customers.

The proposed terminal was first suggested in 2012, when established Kawerau businesses such as Sequal Lumber realised rail could be a more effective way to transport products to a port than road.

Kawerau District Council economic and community development manager Glenn Sutton visited the Tokoroa container terminal in October with council chief executive Russell George and Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell, and they realised a Kawerau terminal could benefit the whole Eastern Bay.

Mr Campbell said the project was positive for the entire Bay as business and industry worked together to better the region.

“All the industries participating will ensure the project’s long-term sustainability. From a transport point of view, the project will ensure we can get heavy produce transported via rail. As strain on our roading system from the central North Island increases, this will help relieve the congestion at Tauranga.”

Mr Sutton said the project team was in the process of gathering baseline data and developing software models to determine how the project might work.

The project kicked off with an initial stakeholder meeting in April, when staff from NZTA, Scion, Kiwi Rail and the Port of Tauranga visited Kawerau for an overview.

A range of businesses likely to participate also attended.

Mr Sutton said there was a good cross-section of stakeholders represented.

“There has been interest from a wide range of businesses, including wood-fibre processors, pack houses, boat builders, engineering companies and food manufacturing.”

Source: Whakatane Beacon