QLDC eyes airstrip

The Queenstown Lakes District Council looks likely to acquire the land surrounding the Glenorchy airstrip and start running the strip.

This comes a little over a month after the QLDC took control of the Wanaka airport, a move which cost $220,000.

The Glenorchy airstrip costs $20,000 a year to run but should the council get involved, costs were likely to rise with extra activity taking place at the airstrip, senior policy analyst Ralph Henderson said.

"If you were to increase activity, it would almost certainly cost more."

The non-manned airstrip is used privately by planes taking up skydivers, top-dressing planes servicing Glenorchy farms and aircraft flying to Milford Sound.

Mr Henderson said the biggest concern for locals was the noise, as there would probably be more flights and other activities.

"Part of the reason for concern is there would be a lot of interest in using the airport, as it is cheaper to fly from there.

"That's hard for the community to understand," Mr Henderson said.

The land is owned by the Department of Conservation and the airstrip is run by the Queenstown Airport Corporation.

The land was brought to the council's attention in March and the QLDC has since been investigating the proposal to acquire it. If it goes ahead, the council could use the airport either commercially or privately.

Feedback so far had been "mixed" with arguments for and against commercial use of the airstrip, said Mr Henderson. He said the QLDC was in a "catch 22" as it would be involved either way with resource consents for the land.

The council will decide if it will take ownership of the land at its next meeting, which was scheduled for today, but is likely to be postponed until August 30.

olivia.caldwell@odt.co.nz

- Olivia Caldwell