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August, 2019

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is applying the brakes to future

development of Queenstown and Wanaka's airports - for now.

Those opposed to expansion of the airports appear to have won some

concessions after more than a year of growing community disquiet.

About 70 people turned up for the public forum part of a Queenstown

Lakes District Council meeting in Wanaka this afternoon.

But before speakers were able to voice their concerns about proposed

airport development, Mayor Jim Boult read a prepared statement.

In it, he confirmed its Queenstown Airport Corporation would continue

with the upgrade of the Queenstown airport terminal and the purchase

of a block of land adjoining the airport.

At Wanaka Airport, "the necessary planning and licensing steps' to

facilitate future domestic air services would be allowed to continue.

However, Mr Boult said, "we need to pause on any further expansion to

understand the implications of airport growth on our communities and

most importantly the economic and social impacts'.

Mr Boult indicated the council's shift to a more proactive stance on its

expectations for the company's growth plans was motivated by concern

about the "wellbeing of our people'.

"The clear stress, anxiety, dissent and downright vitriol that this issue is

creating in both Queenstown and Wanaka is a genuine source of concern

for myself, my fellow councillors and I know, for the Queenstown

Airport Corporation.'

The company's growth projections for Queenstown Airport last July had

brought all the "challenges and perceptions' around the district's rapid

growth to the forefront of community concerns, he said.

"For many the prospect and the quantum of that long-term forecast

growth was hard to accept.

"When we cast our planning forward 30 years, the numbers are

confronting, and that's why we are now seriously committed to strategic

growth management.

In the past few days, the council had told the company to update its

statement of intent with an "amended direction' in which it would be

allowed to proceed with a series of short-term projects.

The council had agreed the 'Project Pathway' terminal upgrade and

acquisition of Lot 6 land in Queenstown, and the progression of planning

and licensing steps for future domestic commercial air services in

Wanaka, could continue.

In the meantime, the council would commission an economic impact

assessment that would seek to understand the "full economic effect of

the airports and their role in supporting the economic wellbeing of the

district and the region'.

A social impact assessment for the Queenstown and Wanaka

communities would also be carried out to understand the impact of

further development of the airports.

The company's sustainability goals would be reviewed, and the council

would ensure demand forecasts for the airports were aligned to

projected growth forecasts for the district through district-wide spatial

planning now being undertaken in partnership with the Government.

Mr Boult said until all that work was completed, councillors would not

consider any change to Queenstown Airport's air noise boundaries, and

work on the development of commercial air services at Wanaka Airport

was on hold apart from the "technical assessments' described.

Queenstown Airport Corporation is a council-controlled trading

organisation 75.01% owned by the council.

Source: Otago Daily Times

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