No community consultation
The Upper Clutha community is not being properly consulted on the significant development of a ‘jet capable’ Wanaka Airport.
- Our repeated requests to have Council engage properly with the Upper Clutha Community on the potential future changes to the Wanaka Airport have been declined, as was our request to have the matter placed on the Wanaka Community Board meeting agenda (WCB is governed by Council also).
- The lack of community involvement stands in stark contrast to the assurances by Council back in 2016 that the Wanaka community would have input on the development of Wanaka Airport.
- Through the Statement of Intent, and the terms of the lease – terms which are held to be privileged hence unknown to those who are supposed to have their right to a say in Wanaka Airport protected by the lease!
They are moving fast, consulting with a select few; much is happening behind the scenes without proper community consultation or support. QAC is planning to spend $300-400 developing Wanaka Airport, and to recoup that investment and provide profits to their shareholders they’ll need to rapidly grow the traffic to Queenstown levels – eg currently 21000 scheduled flights a year.
2020 MartinJenkins impact assessment “consultation” fiasco
In August 2019, under significant community pressure and a looming election, Mayor Jim Boult made an announcement that development would be “paused” until a social impact assessment and an economic impact assessment had been completed. This was to calm community concerns about the airport.
- Consulting firm MartinJenkins was awarded the contract to conduct the assessments.
- In early 2020, some community meetings were held and there was an online survey. But there was deep community dissatisfaction with the process. This has been well recorded on this website and in the mainstream media.
- The reports were due to be delivered by the end of March 2020, but were not. They were finally released in June 2020.
- Our initial reading of these assessments is that they are skewed and predetermined.
- While Mayor Boult, on announcing the assessments, talked of community “consultation” as part of the process, he subsequently back-peddled and said that real consultation was “yet to come”.
Why won’t QAC consult the community?
QAC has shown a clear intention to push changes through with as little consultation as possible
- QAC CEO has indicated that regardless of the community concerns for growth – they intend to build to accommodate forecast demand.
- QAC has delivered only selective consultation to date.
- What little ‘consultation ‘ that has been done is characterised by limited access, specifically targeted audiences, for example existing airport users, loaded and confounding questions, and a lack of transparency.
- Each request for information from QAC has been refused
- Even Councillors have had their requests for information declined.
- QAC is a commercial enterprise which is primarily driven by growth and is currently under no obligation to fully disclose their current or future growth plans.
What is the Council doing about it?
QLDC is allowing this to happen without properly consulting you.
- QLDC owns 75.01% of QAC, and the rest is owned by Auckland Airport.
- There are not sufficient checks and balances in place, and so we are not being consulted about key decisions.
- In 2017 QLDC signed over the lease of Wanaka Airport to QAC for 100 years. At the time the expectation was for a 30 year lease. There was no prior notification or community consultation about the terms of a 100 year lease or the development of a jet capable airport at Wanaka. Even many businesses said they didn’t have enough information to support this idea.
- QLDC agreed to grant the lease in April 2017, the terms of the 100 year lease were finalised in March 2018 and the lease became effective from 1st April 2018.
- The terms of the lease were kept secret from the community.
The so-called “lease” is finally released
- In September 2019, during the election and under significant pressure from voters, Mayor Boult finally agreed to release the details of the so-called “lease”.
- We now know that the document is effectively a sale of Wanaka Airport to QAC.
- All airport assets, including the runway, buildings, apron etc – were sold for $3.2m
- The “ground” is effectively sold also – the 100 year term can be renewed in perpetuity.
- It is clear that the so-called “lease” was implemented unlawfully (Local Government Act) by QLDC.
- The document also limits QLDC’s control over Project Pure (sewerage treatment plant right beside the airport) – which limitation is also unlawful, as Project Pure is a “strategic asset”.
- These issues are now subject to a court case brought by WSG, coming before the High Court in 2020.
- Since the lease has been signed, numerous further decisions have been made without proper consultation with the Upper Clutha Community.