WSG verbal submissions at hearing in Wanaka [WSG, 04/05/21]

Today, we gave a verbal submission to accompany our written submission on the Spatial Plan (SP). Our verbal submission, in full below, also reflects the High Court decision (which came out after we had sent our written submission in) and also our concerns with the SP/Ten Year Plan consultation process. There were some other interesting submissions being made. See also the recent ODT article which confirmed that of “nearly 100” submissions, only two (QAC and Tourism Industry Aotearoa) were in favour of airport growth/development.

Verbal submissions to QLDC – Spatial Plan Hearing – 4th May 2021 (pictured above)

Tēnā koutou

My name is Mark Sinclair, and I am making this verbal submission on behalf of Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc.

As at this morning, WSG has a membership of 3,514 people. We also have the full support of five Upper Clutha residents associations.

Everything we present today is said without prejudice to our position that we have not been given sufficient information or time to take part meaningfully in this consultation.

We have reviewed your draft plans, we speak frequently to our members and our communities, conduct surveys and review research commissioned by QLDC and other third parties.

We assume that you have read our written submissions and will be giving them due weight given the size of our membership.

Summary of WSG’s written submissions.

In our written submissions to you, we have covered five key topics.

  1. Listen to your communities. QLDC must start putting its people first: the views and wishes of the community you serve are paramount, and you must engage in active listening (including real consultation) and act on it in good faith. As our council, you have failed spectacularly to do this in recent years.
  2. Revise your population growth projections to reflect realistic population growth rates. In our submission, your projections are broken. Council should commission fresh, realistic figures and sources, breaking out growth in residential population and visitor numbers, with figures further broken out for the Upper Clutha community. These figures should be clear, easy to understand and well referenced. Without this, any spatial planning or indeed medium to long term planning is meaningless.
  3. Plan for a reset for sustainable tourism. Recognise that Council has a part to play in managing tourism growth and that your planning documents need to genuinely address issues of over-tourism and how to achieve sustainable destinations both for visitors and residents. Neither your SP nor your TYP even scratch the surface on these issues.
  4. Show real commitment to your climate emergency declaration and the urgent need for climate action. Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency and the well documented and unequivocal concerns of the community around climate change should be built into the TYP and Spatial Plan as a core underlying principles and key considerations of all planning and budgeting. This should result in real and tangible measures on climate action. Again, this is currently wafer thin in both documents, giving the distinct perception of greenwashing.
  5. We also made specific recommendations relating to the pages on air services.

The impact of the High Court case.

As you are no doubt aware, the High Court ruling on Wanaka Airport changes everything. The unlawful lease is gone. QLDC must consult openly and transparently on any key decisions about Wanaka Airport.

Both your Ten Year Plan and your Spatial Plan must now be revised to remove anything about Wanaka Airport which followed on from the negotiation of the unlawful lease. To remind you, this puts Wanaka Airport thinking back to approximately 2017. This would include any reference to Wanaka as part of a Dual Airport Strategy, and wipes any plans QAC has made for our airport since April 2017.

You should leave this all out, and put in a placeholder which says that further consideration will be given to Wanaka Airport and Project Pure. We remind council here of its very clear legal obligations under the Local Government Act, reinforced by the judge’s ruling in the case.

The Spatial Plan consultation process

At present, QLDC is purporting to run a lawful consultation process about the Spatial Plan. We put you on notice here and now that this process does not meet the requirements of the Local Government Act or the key principles of good consultation. There are many issues with it. Let me just touch on a few. This is by no means exhaustive:

  • The postcard shuffling workshops which we attended in 2019 were vague and nobody was allowed to raise anything to do with Wanaka Airport – key to growth.
  • Council representatives said they can do nothing to curb growth, and that we were not allowed to discuss this or debate QLDC’s growth assumptions or models.
  • Whilst the Spatial Plan is designed to set the high level direction of planning for the district for the next 30 years, it is abundantly clear that the document is full of errors, unsupported assumptions and gaping holes.
  • Further, your documentation states that outputs from QAC’s airport planning and “dual airport vision” will be incorporated into future Spatial Plan updates. Isn’t that QAC wagging the council?
  • Council has presumably been working on the SP and TYP for well over a year. However, we have all been given only 30 days, which includes Easter and a school holiday, to review, understand and make submissions on hundreds of pages. We are talking about the next 30 years for goodness sake.

Ironically, the five minutes you’ve allocated in this hearing to the largest single issue membership organisation in the district is up. I did ask for more time, but I was told that there are no exceptions. This is ridiculously inadequate to even summarise our key points, let alone present properly or field questions from you.

For all of these reasons, we place on record that this has not been a robust, open and transparent approach to consultation on plans for our district’s future.  

Thank you for your time.

Updated 04/05/21

* WSG membership as at 22:00 Monday 3rd May 2021 stands at 3,514 people

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