Sinking coastal shipping is just plain dumb

Coastal shipping is the most energy efficient means of moving freight. A ship consumes 75 – 80 percent less fuel than a truck per tonne hauled. It’s just got to be the way to go.

The United States finally seems to be seeing this. A Bill before the US Congress, the Marine Highway Bill spearheaded by Stas Margaronis, president of Santa Maria Shipowning & Trading, proposes Congress to allocate $50 million a year for five years to finance federal loan guarantees sufficient to build a fleet of 66 ships to ply the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts.

With 300 53-foot containers each, the coastal ships will remove 20,000 truckloads daily off coastal US highways – yes 20,000 truckloads daily! The removal of the trucks will relieve traffic congestion and reduce maintenance, repair and upgrades needed to accommodate those large trucks.

And the project will create 20,000 jobs. It’s an ideal Green New Deal project to stimulate the economy at the same time as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on oil.

This sort of project would work well in New Zealand too, as we are an island nation where every city has or is close to a port. It is the kind of proposal we should expect to see in the amended Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding (for some strange reason, coastal shipping is officially categorised as land transport).

Sadly, it seems this is not to be. Sue Bradford took a look at the draft Government Policy Statement this morning, only to discover that funding for domestic sea freight development had been slashed by $27m to just $3m over the next 3 years.

I find the shortsightedness of National’s roads, roads and more roads approach impossible to fathom. It defies all logic, and raises suspicions that they have been bought by the road transport lobby.

Proposed ratios of spending on roads to alternatives to roads under the document blow out to a maximum of $9 : $1!

But it’s not too late to have your say. You have a week. Get the submissions on the stupidity of this draft policy statement rolling in to gps@transport.govt.nz before 5pm on Thursday 2 April.

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5 thoughts on “Sinking coastal shipping is just plain dumb

  1. Yes, well the Road Transport forum made 50 percent of all National’s declared donations last year ($30,000). (The other $30,000 came from John Key himself.) So I guess the Road Transport Forum probably does feel it’s earnt a place at the cabinet table. Congrats to the Nats for running such a strong election campaign on such a small amount of declared donations.

  2. Yep, stevedore, I have often wonderd how much cash went from the Road Transport Forum and its members into National Party coffers before the EFA came into force but when they knew it would come into force.

    Guess we’ll never know – unless someone on the inside is still feeding Nicky Hager Nat emails! But I suspect whoever was doing that was a Key supporter working to undermine Brash.

  3. Noticed during a recent Cook Straight ferry crossing that Bluebridge have added another very large RORO ship to the fleet.

    As Bluebridge is owned by the trucking companies, is the “new” ship a portend of the future?

    Unfortunately the Spirit of Free enterprise has been renamed (sold?) and no longet (I think) ships cargo from Wellington to Lyttleton.

    While shipping may be more energy efficient, I not sure that capital and running costs for a vessel are that cheap.

    Nor are berthage, pilot, insurance, etc cost insignificant, even if the ocean highway is totally free from user charges.

    Then you have the need for at least two fully qualified crews. No not cheap to run a ship at all.

  4. Pingback: Free Range » Blog Archive » Coastal Shipping

  5. There once was a plan to move quarry aggregate from Whangarei to Auckland. The shipping was cheap, the service was fuel efficient and the docks only decided to charge 110% of the cost of freighting it by truck all the 150 km from Whangarei to move it the 500 m across their facilities.

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