Chance for opponents to air concerns

Opponents of the proposed international airport at Tarras have been allotted 10 minutes in which to express their concerns to Christchurch city councillors.

Council-owned Christchurch International Airport Ltd has spent $45 million buying land at Tarras for the airport.

A group opposed to the development, Sustainable Tarras, has secured a five-minute speaking slot at a meeting of the council’s finance and performance committee meeting on December 3.

Alongside them will be representatives of Extinction Rebellion — also opposed.

Sustainable Tarras representative Chris Goddard said last week he estimated more than 10,000 people would be affected by the "noise, the fumes, the lighting and the flight paths of wide-body jets landing at Tarras".

Mr Goddard had not yet seen the airport company’s plans, but one of his assumptions was that aircraft would turn — whether landing or taking off — over Cromwell.

His research suggested the entire Cromwell Basin would become controlled airspace, affecting all other aviation activities in the area, including helicopter frost-fighting.

He also believed unburned jet fuel would affect the status of any organic farming or horticultural operations in the basin.

"There’s a lot of unburned jet fuel when aircraft take off or come in to land.

"An aircraft can be very efficient in flight but becomes very inefficient when it takes off and lands.

"The impacts of the jet fuel is going to be quite catastrophic for the local vineyards, the local orchards."

Mr Goddard said he had yet to uncover any real benefit for the Tarras community, although there would be benefits for the wider Cromwell and Wanaka areas as the airport fuelled development of more housing and accommodation.

"We’ve got no housing, [in Tarras] or space for housing, we’ve got quite full employment with quite a diverse workforce.

"We can’t see much benefit."

Mr Goddard will ask the councillors, as representatives of the airport’s shareholders, to disclose the business case for the airport.

He will also put up the suggestion the capacity of the South’s existing airport infrastructure be examined.

"We know Invercargill has a need — post Tiwai[closure] — for attracting more jobs and more tourism, and Invercargill is the gateway to the Catlins, Stewart Island and a much nicer trip to Milford Sound.

"Pulling people in via Invercargill and out via Queenstown would liberate a lot of the spare capacity of our current assets."

Extinction Rebellion representative David Goldsmith, of Christchurch, said he would tell the committee it was "crazy" to build a new airport when a "massive reduction" in carbon emissions was required.

Mr Goldsmith said the councillors needed to take more direct control over its airport company.

"Everything’s at arm’s length from the politicians.

"They need to start looking at the way the whole thing’s set up.

"The existing structure is all about profit, and protecting profit and not protecting our children and grandchildren."

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