Concern over future noise if flights multiply

Commercial passenger jets landing at Queenstown Airport disrupt residents living below the flight path several times a day, as this photograph taken by McBride St homeowner Barbara Williams in February illustrates.
Commercial passenger jets landing at Queenstown Airport disrupt residents living below the flight path several times a day, as this photograph taken by McBride St homeowner Barbara Williams in February illustrates.
Frankton resident Barbara Williams says living beneath the noisy flightpath of Queenstown Airport is ''worse than a war zone because it just keeps happening''.

She is one of 10 homeowners who will be offered full acoustic insulation to mitigate aircraft noise inside her house, paid by the Queenstown Airport Corporation from a $2 million fund announced this week.

A further 140 homeowners in the next projected boundary of airport noise will be offered 75% of the cost of acoustic insulation. Work on the two-year programme will start in September or October.

The offer to homeowners will remain open for 12 months.

Ms Williams, a lifelong Queenstown resident, said yesterday her house and contents were often shaken by aircraft landing or taking off.

''There's no way you can talk, or talk on the telephone, when they go over,'' she said.

Ms Williams said she had been given assurances since she bought her property in 1990 the airport would relocate if it continued to grow, so larger passenger aircraft could land.

She said she heard on average 10 passenger jets, plus propeller-driven passenger planes, helicopters and private fixed-wing aeroplanes every day.

The airport said yesterday domestic and international landings averaged 13 daily in April and May, and 12 in October and November.

Aircraft landings decreased during off-peak months and the number of flights changed daily and within seasons due to weather.

Nevertheless, 1.2 million passengers travelled through New Zealand's fastest-growing airport in 2013, and the number was expected to double in the next 10 years and could double again within 20 years.

Ms Williams said she and her elderly mother ''put up'' with the level of aircraft noise, but she was concerned about it increasing in the future.

''I live by the airport because I love this location and it was only a small airport that was going to move if it was going to grow, and it never did [move],'' Ms Williams said.

''I don't know of any place in the world that has houses so close to the end of a runway. I think if anyone took sound tests here it would [be found to be] uninhabitable by people.

''I work out of home and it's worse than a war zone because it just keeps happening.

''I've got double-glazing everywhere in my house and it makes no difference at all.''

Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Scott Paterson said yesterday he could not comment on past assurances. He was appointed in March 2012.

''I'm surprised the noise inside her house is the same as it is outside. There's no doubt her house is very close to the end of the runway and it is one of the houses that will be offered mitigation.''

Mr Paterson said noise mitigation to be offered for the Williams residence would aim to reduce the internal sound level to 40dba.

''We're going to grow, there's going to be more frequency of flights and we want to help our closest neighbours.''