WSG, council await ruling after judicial review [Wanaka App, 01/10/20]

After one week and 10,000 pages of evidence, the Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) and the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) are awaiting Justice Gerard van Bohemen’s ruling on whether agreements in relation to Wanaka Airport were lawful or not.

The judicial review against the QLDC and Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) launched by the WSG began in Queenstown last Monday (September 21).

The WSG first indicated last year that they believed various agreements between QLDC and QAC in relation to Wanaka Airport are unlawful, including the 100-year lease to QAC.

QLDC councillors approved a long-term lease of the Wanaka Airport to the QAC in April 2017, and a year later the lease became effective, with QAC paying the QLDC $14.5 million for the ground lease and related assets.

The WSG claims that handing over control of the existing Wanaka Airport to QAC by a 100-year lease following QLDC’s consultation in 2016/2017 acted in breach of numerous sections of the Local Government Act.

WSG chair Michael Ross 

The QLDC declined to comment on the judicial review, but the WSG said in a statement yesterday (Wednesday September 30) that information made public during the hearing “should be ringing alarm bells”.

Despite the QLDC and QAC both saying “no decision has been made” to build a jet airport at Wanaka, it was revealed during the hearing that runway plans had been drawn up, and money budgeted by council to move parts of Project Pure away from the proposed runway. 

A letter to QAC from mayor Jim Boult and council chief executive Mike Theelen stated that council believed the QAC board was capable of making decisions under the guidance of the statement of intent (SOI), and the only area the council would expect to be involved in was “if the company proposed expanding its operation beyond aeronautical services or where it might seek to act beyond the boundaries of the Southern Region”.

Read this in full here.

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