Chance to air Tarras airport concerns

Christchurch Airport has just unveiled a ''new long-term proposal'' for a new airport in the...
Christchurch Airport representatives have agreed to attend a meeting tonight to discuss residents’ concerns about a proposed international airport in Tarras.

Communications manager Yvonne Densem confirmed Christchurch executive Michael Singleton had been appointed as project leader a week ago.

He had been involved in the development of the project and would attend with her.

Residents spokesman John Harris said he was "delighted" with the news.

It had contradicted an email received from Mr Singleton on Monday which said the company would not be attending the public meeting in Tarras as it preferred to meet residents "individually".

He cited two reasons for the company’s hesitation.

"Firstly, we are much earlier in the project that you suspect; the documents you identify in your agenda simply have not been created yet."

Secondly, public meetings did not work well: "often only the loudest voices get heard."

Mr Singleton also acknowledged the news of the purchase of 750ha of land at Tarras for an international airport had come "as a surprise to many".

"I must be unapologetic about that. Confidentiality was necessary through the land acquisition stage. Otherwise, we simply would not have been able to get to the start line."

He said formal consultation processes would happen, but they would happen much later.

For now the company’s focus was on "conversation".

"We want to listen, reflect back what we have heard and then factor that into our timing, design and approach."

Mr Harris argued local people did not want an airport, full stop.

"If the proceedings are to go forward then we would like to see everything is done in the open and in full consultation with the Resource Management Act.

"There should be no attempts to fast track and bypass due process," he said.

Yesterday, Christchurch City Acting Mayor Andrew Turner revealed Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL) had advised him and city councillors of its intention to build an airport at Tarras ahead of the media announcement last Wednesday.

He said a detailed briefing with CIAL and CCHL (Christchurch City Holdings Ltd) to the full council followed on Friday.

CIAL operates as a stand-alone commercial company with its own board of directors.

Shareholder matters are handled by CCHL on behalf of the Christchurch City Council.

Mr Turner said "matters relating to the Tarras project itself were best directed to CIAL, while matters relating to shareholders in CIAL were best directed to Christchurch City Holdings Limited.

"I have no further comment to make at this time."

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