SURVEY: What about Tarras Airport? [10/02/21]
Since the announcement by CIAL (Christchurch International Airport Limited) about their airport plans for Tarras, we’ve been asked for Wanaka Stakeholders Group’s view. In January 2021, we surveyed our members to determine the overall view of our membership, and on Wednesday 10th February 2021, we sent our members the letter below.
Wednesday 10th February 2021 – sent via email
Dear [Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) member name]
Since the surprise announcement last year about plans for an international airport in Tarras, we’ve been asked frequently for WSG’s position on Tarras Airport.
Our Committee felt that we first needed to listen to our members’ views before coming to any position about Tarras Airport, and thus the survey of members was emailed out early in the New Year. Since then, we’ve had over 1,200 responses to the survey.
Below, we share our updated position on airports, taking into account your collective views on Tarras. You’ll see that our slightly revised position builds on our core principles – established from the outset – and updates them given the new set of issues we face in 2021.
WSG’s position on jet capable airports impacting the Upper Clutha
- WSG’s primary concern is the failure by QLDC to consult – properly and lawfully – about the future of Wanaka Airport and Project Pure.
- Our members are concerned about a range of issues, with democratic process, climate change and maintaining the character of our environment at the top of the list.
- Despite two years of raising these issues and a challenge in the High Court, QLDC has continued to show no interest in genuine community consultation or open dialogue. Even the $205,000 report QLDC has commissioned about airports has never been discussed by the full Council.
- Now two years on, a combination of the impacts of Covid-19, intensified national and international focus on climate change and the environment, and the proposal by Christchurch International Airport Ltd to build a big international airport at Tarras, brings these issues even more sharply into view.
- The time has long since passed when the Upper Clutha community will sit back and allow airport companies to determine the future of our local infrastructure and environment, aided and actively supported by councils that place commercial interests above community interests, play down community concerns and even blatantly ignore them.
- How can any responsible government – national or local – declare a climate emergency and then allow or actively pursue the development of further airports in NZ, thereby opening the door to mass tourism? This will inevitably generate increased carbon emissions from both international and domestic flights, as well as from transport and other infrastructure required to support such growth.
- In the same way that leadership from Central Government was required to successfully manage Covid, bold leadership will be required from the Government to ensure that sound decisions are made around airport development, national infrastructure and controls on inbound tourism.
Highlights from our recent survey of members
We had over 1,200 people respond to our survey. Key findings are as follows:
- 74% of respondents are opposed to a new international airport at Tarras
- 87% are very worried about environmental impacts (including Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions which would only increase if developments at Wanaka or Tarras went ahead)
- 83.5% were concerned about the negative impacts on the unique character of the Upper Clutha
- 76% said that they were concerned about the impacts on Quality of Life
- 68.7% were concerned about road safety
- Two thirds said that Upper Clutha ratepayers MUST be closely consulted on and involved in airport decisions, with another 30% saying that they should be.
The survey included responses from 366 businesspeople in our district, representing a sizeable sample of our business community, as well as residents from all key settlements in the Upper Clutha, plus Tarras and surrounding area, and was representative of all (adult) age groups. The results also line up with the results of the MartinJenkins airport assessment survey and the recent Quality of Life surveys – all of which were commissioned by QLDC.
We are still awaiting the judge’s decisions from our judicial review held in the High Court in Queenstown late last year. You will be the first to hear from us once we have read that decision.
In the meantime, we hope you are enjoying what is left of summer.
Michael Ross, Chair
Wānaka Stakeholders Group Inc.
On behalf of the Committee and Core of WSG