Mayor won’t talk to Wanaka community, but is talking to Auckland Airport [WSG, 26/02/20]

In the last 24 hours, the Mayor has made two statements which confirm that Auckland Airport is driving the agenda for Wanaka Airport. Links to the full stories are below our media release.

Mayor won’t talk to Wanaka community, but is talking to Auckland Airport

(Wanaka, 26 February 2020) A large community group opposing development of a jet airport in Wanaka is “gobsmacked’ at the latest revelations from Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) Mayor Jim Boult.  Mark Sinclair, deputy chair of Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc, says that the Upper Clutha community is shocked and disappointed at the two separate statements made by the Council’s leader within 24 hours.

“Yesterday in a Council meeting the mayor appeared to be saying that any decisions that QLDC makes in relation to Wanaka and Queenstown airports must be decisions which Auckland Airport agrees with, otherwise the council might face legal action.  His words were emphatic and unambiguous.  This was deeply concerning for the community to hear and confirms our suspicions that the tail is wagging the dog.”

“As if that wasn’t gobsmacking enough, this afternoon whilst trying to play yesterday’s comments down Mayor Boult has made a statement revealing that Auckland Airport ‘is fully supportive of the Council’s approach’ to the current consultation process.  Given how frustrated the community is feeling about this process right now, the Mayor’s comments just rubs salt into the wounds.”  He said Mayor Boult won’t even talk to the community about its concerns around consultation, despite “very serious concerns having been raised many times.”

Mr Sinclair said that WSG, with membership of over 3,300 people, had tried multiple times in the lead up to the two airport assessments to get answers from Mayor Boult and his executive team.  The group had also written twice to the council’s consultants, MartinJenkins.  All of these attempts had been met with “rebuffs or silence”.  Numerous other community groups, including five residents associations around Wanaka and two community groups in Queenstown had “received the same treatment” he said.

Mr Sinclair said the Wanaka and Queenstown communities will be deeply troubled to discover that the Mayor and Council are pressing forward with a process that the community is clearly not happy with, but which Auckland Airport has confirmed as acceptable to them.

He added: “We have no doubt that Auckland Airport would be happy with a process that seems designed to produce the very decision that Auckland Airport most wants.  That is one of the serious concerns which we have raised many times and which we will be raising in the High Court judicial review proceedings.”

You can read about the Mayor’s statement in yesterday’s Council meeting here. Read the Auckland Airport’s damage control statement and the Mayor’s second statement today here.

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