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
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
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