Climate change: Airport expansion not mentioned in Queenstown plan [Stuff, 13/03/20]
Queenstown Lakes District Council was accused of having its cake and eating it too by adopting a climate action plan while allowing expansions at Queenstown and Wanaka Airports.
The action plan, which was unanimously approved by the council on Thursday, sets a goal for the region to be net zero carbon by 2050.
To help achieve this, the council plans to boost electric vehicle charging stations, investigate low-emissions public transport, encourage low-carbon heating options and become “idle-free” by encouraging drivers to switch off their engines when parked. It will also establish a climate reference group to steer emissions cuts.
The council, which owns 75 per cent of Queenstown Airport, required the airport corporation to measure its greenhouse gas profile as part of the action plan, but included no initiatives to cut aviation emissions beyond encouraging council staff to telecommute.
* Controversial Wanaka Airport lease revealed but plans for legal action remain
* Climate emergency declaration followed by airport plan allowing growth
* Queenstown Airport backs off raising noise limits
* New terminal and dual operation with Wanaka considered for Queenstown Airport
Queenstown Airport wants to expand its noise control boundaries to increase the number of planes arriving, though it delayed the proposal in 2018 after the public fiercely opposed it. The airport corporation also leases Wanaka’s community airport and plans to turn into a busy jet hub.
Residents previously flagged the juxtaposition between the expansions and the district council’s public position on climate change when it declared a climate emergency in June.
At Thursday’s council meeting, resident Monique Kelly said the region’s residents “cannot have our cake and eat it too” by growing tourism while trying to cut emissions. Fellow resident Ella Downing said “the failure to include aviation emissions [in the plan] is an error that should be rectified sooner rather than later”.
These sentiments were shared by the more than 3300 Wanaka residents that had joined Wanaka Stakeholders, a group opposing the local airport’s expansion plans, deputy chair Mark Sinclair said. “People don’t want a second jet airport in the district.”
Sinclair said the omission of the region’s increasing aviation activity was a flaw in an otherwise robust climate plan. “There are lots of things in the plan that we are very positive about. But at the same time, we are gobsmacked that the council has not given significant weighting to the greenhouse gas impact – both direct and indirect – expanded airport operations in the southern lakes would bring.”
Addressing the plan, councillor Niki Gladding said she would “like to think, as a council, we wouldn’t be making decisions on airport growth ahead of the climate reference group coming back to us with the timeframes and the toolkit for reducing emissions”.