Parties at legal loggerheads over airport future [ODT, 14/02/20]

Both sides in the row over possible redevelopment of Wanaka Airport argue that the other has acted unreasonably, court documents released to the Otago Daily Times show.

The Wanaka Stakeholders Group is seeking judicial review of decisions by the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Queenstown Airport Corporation relating to possible expansion of services at the airport.

The QLDC is assessing the economic and social effects of redevelopment; among the options is the introduction of commercial passenger services to the township.

Court documents filed by both sides were released to the ODT this week.

The WSG’s statement of claim for judicial review of the council and the airport company’s actions asserts that both made decisions which were unlawful under the Local Government Act.

It also says both organisations acted unreasonably by failing to consult adequately about their plans, and the QLDC in its decision-making processes.

Wanaka Airport and the adjacent “Project Pure” wastewater treatment plant were strategic assets, as defined by the Local Government Act, which required conditions under the Act to be met before any decisions about them were taken, the WSG said.

“None of the decisions … were explicitly provided for in QLDC’s long-term plan or subject to a proposal to provide such decisions included in a consultation document.”

The council’s consultation had been inadequate to elicit and reflect the views of the community, the group said.

“QLDC exercised its decision-making functions for the purpose of the perceived need or desire of QAC to cater for and indeed attract projected increasing numbers of international tourists into the wider South Island region without any relevant consultation with other stakeholders, without any consideration of government policies regarding over-tourism, and without having any regard to the availability of other airports such as those at Dunedin, Invercargill and Christchurch.”

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