There has been a heated debate on the zoned industrial land on which the Whakatu Inland Port will be built. People are questioning about whether fertile land should be used for development or agriculture.
The $20 million project will be built on a portion of a Napier Port-owned apple orchard (12 ha) between T&G Global and Whakatu Cold Stores on Anderson Rd will be removed.
Opposing political candidates and the chairman of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council all agree on one thing: the land while fertile has already been zoned industrial, but going forward fertile land should not go under concrete.
The debate was sparked following comments made by the Save Our Plains group who vehemently opposed the Whakatu Inland Port being built on "prime fertile land", following an article published in Hawke's Bay Today.
Group spokesman Richard Gaddum said covering the "best soils in the world" with industrial development was "economic madness". "The plan to put an inland port at Whakatu on prime fertile land on the Heretaunga Plains is ludicrous,. This land has been designated industrial in the 2017 Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) so all three councils (HDC, NCC and HBRC) feel justified to expand this area for more industrial development but it is not the right approach. There is other unproductive land which would be better suited for such an industrial initiative."
Former Hastings District Council mayor and current National Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule said the inland port concept at Whakatu had been considered for more than 15 years, including in the recent alignment on the upgrade decisions around the Whakatu Arterial Route.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Rex Graham praised the inland port project and supported the stemming of fertile land usage for industrial development, in the future.
"The current port is constrained, the inland port will bring new efficiencies and the way we move our goods to the world. With our growing economy it will help take a lot of trucks off the road in Napier," Graham said.