QAC’s Statement of Intent approved [Wanaka Sun, 05/11/20]

The Queenstown Airport Corporation’s (QAC) statement of intent outlining that QAC would not seek to expand air noise boundaries at Queenstown Airport, nor progress plans to develop Wānaka Airport, until June 30, 2023, was approved by the Queenstown Lakes District Council on Thursday.

The council voted to agree to the Statement of Intent eight votes to two.

The document stated that “uncertainty” caused by Covid-19 meant Queenstown Airport was not expected to reach existing noise boundaries for many years

Several councillors and members of the public expressed their dissatisfaction with the document and the process behind the decision.

Several members of the public gave their views on any potential expansion of the airport’s operations with many vehemently opposed to any future expansion of aircraft movements.

In a letter sent to all councillors prior to last week’s vote, Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) chair Michael Ross had pointed out that the community was waiting on the judicial review judgement to be published following proceedings WSG brought against both QAC and QLDC. 

He wrote: “It is in our opinion therefore nonsensical, if not arrogant, for QAC and the Council to proceed to agree to this SOI as if the judicial review case never occurred and ignoring all of the evidence and arguments presented to the Court for its review.” 

On the matter of “dual airports”, WSG claimed that QAC was trying to “rewrite the definition” of the term which it had already “clearly defined over many years.” 

Ross also pointed out that the planned runway was intended to be capable of taking jets.   

WSG said that  QAC had stated publicly that the latest SOI meant that there would be no further development at Wānaka Airport until June 2023. But Ross pointed out that “QAC’s statements in the SOI are seemingly innocuous because QAC is clearly not doing anything very short term because of Covid and its effect on international tourism. Yet it is are easily able to reverse this position in any future SOI, including the next one, which is due in just over six months.”

Ross said that the group was awaiting the High Court decision, which it hoped would be given within the next few weeks, and WSG would consider its options at that point.

The airport corporation was owned 75 per cent by Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) and the remainder by Auckland International Airport.

Future planning for Queenstown and Wānaka airports would now involve local councils and central government working together, QAC said.

Read edition 999 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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