A swathe of prime greenfield land the size of almost 18
football pitches at the heart of Frankton Flats was fought
over in the Environment Court in Queenstown last week. James
Beech sums up who the combatants are and what they say in the
war of words over ''Lot 6''.
What is the issue?
The Queenstown Airport Corporation runs one of the
fastest-growing airports on either of the Tasman.
One of its facilities which needs more room is the aviation
park for general aviation aircraft, including light civilian
and commercial fixed-wing aircraft, plus commercial
flightseeing helicopters and corporate jets.
The 19ha of land south of the runway, Lot 6, became the
preferred site for the airport's relocation of the aviation
The corporation applied to alter its existing aerodrome
designation to compulsorily acquire the section, deemed
''nationally significant'' by the Environment Minister in
What are the problems?
Remarkables Park Ltd, the development company expanding its
town centre across 150ha in Frankton, owns Lot 6.
The company wants the notice of requirement cancelled by the
Environment Court for several reasons, including its claim
the airport does not need the land and can use land already
dedicated to the airport to the north of the runway instead
for its new aviation park.
There is a ''scarcity of industrial land'' which made the
19ha in dispute valuable for development.
Remarkables Park said it has a ''legitimate expectation'',
based on earlier land swap agreements, deeds and contracts,
that the greenfield site would remain a ''buffer zone''
between aircraft noise from the runway and the park's
noise-sensitive residential and commercial activities.
Lot 6 was to be turned over for recreational or agricultural
use where noise would not matter.
However, the corporation's counsel accused Remarkables Park
of ''pursuing self-interest, using its claimed power of veto
as it chooses'' to dictate the future planning of the
Earlier agreements were not barriers to the statutory
responsibilities of the corporation, or the court.
Remarkables Park has not redesigned its Lot 6 land around the
designation, since it was aware of the corporation's
intentions in 2008 and the notice was issued in 2010.
''Scarcity of industrial land'' was dismissed, as zoning of
Frankton Flats did not cater for the airport.
Most operators backed the airport's preference for Lot 6
because they were concerned about the southern wind,
helicopters struggling with approaches, fixed-wing aircraft
struggling with taxiways and the wash from jet airliners
landing and taking off, if they were based to the north.
Who is involved?
Remarkables Park was represented by Royden Somerville QC, of
Dunedin. Co-director Alastair Porter, of Frankton, gave
evidence and was cross-examined.
Counsel for the airport corporation was Matthew Casey QC, of
Auckland. Steve Sanderson, of Wellington, corporation chief
executive from 2007 to 2011, gave evidence and was
Air New Zealand was represented and stayed neutral, but
counsel James Gardner-Hopkins, of Wellington, urged the court
to make a decision soon to minimise delay and uncertainty.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council, the controlling
shareholder of the airport, was also present.
What happens next?
Judge Jane Borthwick said the proceedings did stop the
parties from mediating an outcome as they had always done
Both parties said they were not opposed to negotiation, but
the Environment Court became involved when years of talks
failed to find a resolution.
The judge said the court could see the options of either
confirming or cancelling the airport's notice of requirement,
or examining how much Lot 6 land was needed by the
Separating corporate jet services from general aviation and
helicopter services and placing jet operations only on Lot 6,
plus the idea of the corporation buying Lot 6 from
Remarkables Park were considerations.
The hearing concluded on Thursday and the decision will be
issued by the judge ''in due course''.