The High Court has allowed appeals in part by Remarkables
Park Ltd (RPL) and the Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC)
over the latter's Notice of Requirement seeking 19ha of land
to allow for expansion and projected growth.
The land, owned by RPL, would enable the airport corporation
to provide additional space for other aviation activity,
including relocation of smaller and private aviation
operations and helicopters, a ''precision instrument approach
runway'' and parallel taxiway.
QAC applied to alter the land, zoned as Remarkables Park
Activity Area 9 and used for grazing, in December 2010.
In February 2011, Environment Minister Nick Smith decided the
matter was an issue of ''national significance'', directing
the application to the Environment Protection Authority to go
directly to the Environment Court.
The court heard the matter in July 2012 and in September last
year issued its decision, rejecting the provision of the
precision instrument approach runway and parallel taxiway,
reducing the land subject to the application to 8.07ha.
QAC and RPL contended the Environment Court ''got it wrong''
and appealed to the High Court. The hearing was held last
month in Queenstown.
In his decision, released on Thursday, Justice Whata allowed
the appeals in part and referred the application back to the
Justice Whata said QAC identified five errors of law, while
RPL identified 12 errors.
''QAC says, in short, that the Environment Court exceeded its
jurisdiction by revisiting the scope of the existing
designation and erred in law also by imposing a limitation on
the NOR based on an interpretation of civil aviation
standards that might prove to be erroneous.''
The RPL appeal raised several issues, including whether the
Environment Court was empowered to cancel only part of the
notice of requirement (NOR) and whether the Environment Court
''wrongly failed to consider the unfairness of the NOR to
In the 52-page decision, Justice Whata said QAC managed one
of the busiest airports in New Zealand, with an average of
40,000 aircraft movements and more than one million passenger
movements every year.
He found the Environment Court did not have regard to the
potential ''disenabling effect'' of a maximum separation
distance between the main runway strip and taxiway; it
incorrectly excluded ''fairness'' as an irrelevant
consideration; did not correctly assess RPL's claims based on
legitimate expectation; and did not provide RPL with an
opportunity to address the issue of scarcity of industrial
land and its relevance or otherwise to the adequacy of the
assessment of alternatives.
Justice Whata directed the Environment Court to reconsider
whether the requirement should be cancelled or modified after
it had provided the parties an opportunity to be heard in
relation to the separation requirements; and the assessment
of the adequacy of alternatives and reasonable necessity
after it had provided the parties with an opportunity to be
heard in relation to RPL's ''legitimate expectation claims''
and the scarcity of industrial land.