Split council commits to halting growth at Queenstown Airport – for now [Stuff, 25/02/20]

Opponents of increased flights at Queenstown Airport have had a surprise victory with the Queenstown Lakes District Council voting to restrict further growth.

Community groups were delighted the council, which owns 75.01 per cent of Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC), changed the wording of a statement of expectations at its meeting on Tuesday.

The original document said it would “minimise” the need for changes to established noise boundaries at the airport, but the wording was changing to say “continue to operate within existing boundaries”.

The revised document was adopted by the council and will be used to inform the council’s statement of intent – the document it updates annually to provide strategic direction to the airport corporation.

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Kelvin Peninsula Community Association chairman David Mayhew told the council he was uncomfortable with the word “minimise” in the original document.

“This language not only leaves a door open, it positively invites QAC to extend boundaries … even with the existing boundaries there’s room for 20 per cent growth.”

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult says restricting airport growth is a "dangerous path" for the council to walk down.
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult says restricting airport growth is a “dangerous path” for the council to walk down. Photo: DEBBIE JAMIESON/STUFF

Mayor Jim Boult spoke against the change, saying it would lead the council to “walk down a dangerous path”.

The council could not make an informed decision on growth until economic and social impact assessments were available and the change could open the council to a legal challenge by QAC’s 24.99 per cent shareholder, Auckland Airport, he said.

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