Letter to QLDC re airport agenda item at full council meeting tomorrow

Two days ago, QLDC confirmed the first agenda item for tomorrow’s Council meeting – recommendations that Councillors adopt the existing Statement of Intent in relation to Queenstown and Wanaka airports. This Statement of Intent was robustly rejected by Council on 28 August 2019, after significant opposition from residents of both Queenstown and Wanaka. This afternoon, we sent the following letter to the Mayor, QLDC CEO and all Councillors.

The Mayor and CEO
Queenstown Lakes District Council
(By email, individually)
11 December 2019

Dear Mayor Boult and Mr. Theelen,


  1. We refer to your Agenda Item 1 at the QLDC meeting scheduled for tomorrow and the Report for that agenda item and the recommendations in the Report.

  2. As you are aware, WSG represents over 3000 members of the Wānaka and Upper Clutha communities and has now issued judicial review proceedings to have the High Court determine some fundamental questions as to the lawfulness of the transfer of ownership and control of existing Wānaka Airport to QAC (via the so called ‘lease’) and various related side agreements, including some which are indeed recorded in the Statement of Intent dated 20 August 2019 which the council appears to be intending to ‘agree’.

  3. The issues in paragraph 2 above are fundamental threshold issues as to whether and how decisions should be made about the future redevelopment and use of Wanaka Airport. Accordingly, we place on record WSG’s position as follows:

    (a) The proposal that QLDC should agree the SOI dated 20 August 2019 at its meeting on 12 December 2019 is not appropriate. The council should not be taking any steps or making any decisions that are necessarily on the basis that the ‘lease’ which transferred ownership and control of Wanaka Airport to QAC is lawful and valid when that issue is currently before the High Court for determination. The council and QAC should be cooperating to expedite those judicial review proceedings;

    (b) The council should resolve to direct its lawyers to fully support the allocation of an expedited hearing sought by WSG to enable these threshold issues to be determined by the Court as soon as practicable.

  4. For the avoidance of doubt, we note that the proceedings and WSG’s concerns are focused solely on all decisions, past and present, relating to the ownership, control and future development of Wānaka Airport. The Statements of Intent and a number of the issues discussed in the Report also relate to matters of QAC’s governance and QLDC’s expectations in relation to the operation of Queenstown Airport. This letter should not be taken as accepting the appropriateness of what is proposed in that regard. We have not had a full opportunity in the short time since we have had a copy of the report to analyse the full
    significance of its content and indeed we note that the crucial “joint position statement” referred to in paragraph 25 of the Report is not available. We would be surprised indeed if most Councillors have had adequate opportunity to properly consider the implications of what is proposed.

    Yours sincerely,
    The Committee, Wanaka Stakeholders Group Incorporated

Cc list: QLDC Councillors, CEO QAC

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