Airport neighbour criticised

The Queenstown Airport Corporation ''at the very least'' expected neighbour Remarkables Park Ltd to ''act rationally and responsibly'' over the development of the airport, the Environment Court heard yesterday.

The 19ha of land in dispute south of the runway, known as ''Lot 6'', became the preferred site for the airport's relocation of fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and private jets when airport-owned land north of the runway, which Remarkables Park said should be used instead, was found to be ''unworkable and unsuitable''.

Corporation counsel Matthew Casey QC, of Auckland, made the comments in his opening submission during day two yesterday of the hearing on the notice of requirement applied by the airport to alter its existing aerodrome designation to include Lot 6.

Mr Casey told Judge Jane Borthwick and commissioners David Bunting and Ross Dunlop Remarkables Park co-director Alastair Porter ''has no regard for the findings of this court and its decision dealing with the issues he claims to be concerned about. A party seeking to invoke equitable principles must themselves act equitably.''

Remarkables Park showed it was ''intent on pursuing self-interest, using its claimed power of veto as it chooses''.

Remarkables Park submitted it had a ''legitimate expectation'', based on earlier agreements, the greenfield parcel of land would remain a ''buffer zone'' between aircraft noise from the runway and the park's noise-sensitive residential and commercial activities.

However, Mr Casey said earlier agreements ''do not prevent the exercise by [the airport corporation] of its statutory functions, duties and powers in the capacity in which it seeks to designate the land, nor do they prevent the court from the proper exercise of its power under the [Resource Management Act] to confirm the designation''.

The real legitimate expectation was about the process not the outcome. Remarkables Park could expect to be consulted by the corporation about Lot 6 ''in good faith'' but it could not expect the obligation being satisfied only by the corporation's leaving the section alone, he said.

Judge Borthwick and the commissioners heard the corporation took into account the effects of the notice of requirement on Remarkables Park and devised conditions to address them. However, the company made no attempt to redesign its Lot 6 land around the designation since it was aware of the corporation's intentions since 2008 and the notice was issued in 2010, Mr Casey said.

The alleged ''scarcity of industrial land'' on Frankton Flats, submitted by Remarkables Park as another reason why airport-owned land should be used instead of Lot 6, was also dismissed by Mr Casey. Zoning established by plan change 19 is not intended to provide for airport activities.

The hearing continues in Queenstown this week.