Lobby group says airport report ‘waste of money’ [Wanaka App, 20/06/20]

Lobby groups opposed to airport expansion have weighed in on the MartinJenkins report to the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC).

The Wellington consultants’ 236-page report was released on Tuesday (June 16).

It assesses the social and economic impact of four hypothetical scenarios related to the future of airport infrastructure, from keeping the status quo building a new international airport. 

MartinJenkins principal consultant Jason Leung-Wai said he hoped the report “provides the frameworks and information that will allow decision-makers to better understand the positive and negative impacts associated with airport infrastructure”.

But Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc (WSG), which has been at the forefront of a campaign to stop expansion of Wanaka Airport, called the report an “inappropriate waste” of $214,000 of taxpayers’ money.

More on the Wanaka App: Airport report shows strong preference for ‘status quo’

WSG chair Michael Ross, speaking on behalf of the group’s claimed 3,425 members, said: “The report tells us nothing we don’t already know.

Michael Ross said the report “tells us nothing we don’t already know”. 

“Both the Wanaka and Queenstown communities are opposed to further development or expansion of the sort that is clearly planned by QAC [Queenstown Airport Corporation].”

He said WSG had already “summarised for all” seven reasons why there should be no commercial jet operations at Wanaka Airport.

“Predictably, with the MartinJenkins report in hand, both QLDC and QAC are going to argue that the ‘economic impacts’ of building bigger jet airport capacity in the region far outweigh negative social impacts, which are largely watered down in the report.”

The report and process “ignores” the scenario the WSG has been campaigning for, which is to maintain services to Queenstown Airport, and continue with Wanaka Airport as a complimentary hub for general aviation with some scheduled turbo-prop services, Michael said.

Michael said the report is “nothing more than very expensive window dressing which provides cover for the inappropriate decisions that QAC and QLDC intend to persist with once tourism volumes start to return”.

COVID-19 is likely to delay any expansion for at least five years, according to the MartinJenkins report.

Queenstown-based lobby group We Love Wakatipu Inc, led by former councillor Cath Gilmour and others, is yet to publish its full response to the report.

The group said it will respond “as soon as our busy volunteer resource has the opportunity to trawl and think through its 236 pages”.

“We Love Wakatipu Inc will also continue to push QLDC councillors to keep their to electioneering stands against expansion of the air noise boundary (ANB) at Queenstown Airport,” the group said.

Read this on the Wanaka App here.

%d bloggers like this: