High Court update – day one

Today was our first of an expected five days in the High Court, for the judicial review hearing about Wānaka Airport. Here’s the update we just sent to members this evening.

Today was our first day of the judicial review hearing in the High Court in Queenstown. Our team of four QCs/Barristers was led by Julian Miles QC who opened with a blistering summary of QLDC’s lack of transparency or community consultation about Wānaka Airport.

Julian Miles QC, leads the team of WSG barristers and QCs in the opening submissions. Photo: Crux

We could summarise the day ourselves, but in light of the significant media interest which the hearing has attracted, we suggest that you start by reading the coverage from Crux, which you’ll find here.

After the lunch break, Counsel met the Judge “in chambers” to discuss the status of two key documents which QAC and QLDC want kept confidential. The Judge has reserved his decision and we’ll know the outcome of that tomorrow morning. WSG’s argument is that it’s in the public interest to release the documents to the public.

The afternoon was spent going through various key documents: “the lease” and various reports and documents, as well as some of our 20 affidavits.

As a side note, the only person from QLDC or QAC to turn up was Councillor Niki Gladding.

We expect WSG’s initial submissions to continue into tomorrow, before QLDC and QAC, in turn, have their say mid-week. We will keep you updated as we go.

Thank you as ever for your support.

Ngā mihi

Michael Ross, Chair
And the team at
Wānaka Stakeholders Group Inc.

PS For your information, a copy of this afternoon’s media release is below

Media Release

Judicial review of Wānaka Airport decision begins in Queenstown

A group representing nearly 3,500 Upper Clutha residents opposed to the development of a second jet airport in the Queenstown Lakes region has opened with its submissions in the High Court judicial review in Queenstown today. Wānaka Stakeholders Group Inc. is asking a High Court judge to review the decisions made by QLDC in relation to their local airport, leading to the awarding of a 100 year “lease” of the airport, which they say is unlawful.

In his opening submissions to the court, Julian Miles QC described this as the “biggest issue this community has faced in a very long time” and that QLDC’s and QAC’s plans “impact on every element that makes Wānaka what it is […] and is of enormous importance.”

WSG Chair, Michael Ross, says that the group is relieved that the issue is now before the High Court. “Our legal team has spent hundreds of hours during the last 12 months preparing for this case, supported by the wider WSG team in Wānaka. After years of frustrations, blocked information and lack of transparency from QLDC and QAC, we’re very pleased to have the opportunity to put our concerns about their handling of Wānaka Airport before a High Court Judge. Even more so in light of our recent discovery of Council’s $2.7m spend on Project Pure as a direct result of the airport lease.”

The hearing is set to take a week, with a decision from the Judge likely to be delivered later in the year.


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