Executives, council to discuss airport plans

Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett today announced funding for a long-awaited toilet stop...
CIAL announced in July it had bought 750ha of farmland valued at $45 million in Tarras and intended to build an airport there to serve the tourism market. Photo: ODT file
Two senior Christchurch International Airport executives will attend a Central Otago District Council meeting today to discuss plans for the proposed new airport at Tarras.

Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL) project director Michael Singleton and the company’s strategy and sustainability general manager, Rhys Boswell, will join the last full meeting of the council for the year in Alexandra from 10.30am to update those attending on the project and on how conversations with the community have gone so far.

Central Otago District Council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs said that when CIAL announced the land purchases five months ago, the company had committed to keeping the council informed.

"They expressed an interest in updating us towards the end of the year, and we subsequently invited that to occur at this particular meeting, the last of the year.

"Such updates happen from time to time on issues and projects of public interest and we would expect that the airport continues to be one of those."

CIAL announced in July it had bought 750ha of farmland valued at $45million in Tarras and intended to build an airport there to serve the tourism market.

CIAL is 75% owned by the Christchurch City Council and 25% by the government.

A meeting of the Christchurch City Council last week attracted opponents from community group Sustainable Tarras and climate activists from Extinction Rebellion Otautahi, who dressed in black and carrying grave markers, lay on the floor and staged a "die-in" in protest at the proposed airport.

The show of opposition to the airport idea appears to have piqued the interest of the councillors who attended the meeting.

Sustainable Tarras Inc spokesman Chris Goddard said on Monday he received an email from the council shortly after his presentation.

The email said the committee had requested an "urgent confidential briefing with Christchurch City Holdings Ltd and Christchurch International Airport Ltd" regarding the matters raised by the deputations "as soon as possible in the new year".

"It is quite an unusual thing for the council to have said," Mr Goddard said.

"For a business that operates at arm’s length, this is the first time to our knowledge that there’s been a change in that stance.

"There are many different reactions we expected Christchurch councillors to show, but we did not expect this outcome.

"I see it as a positive step."

jared.morgan@odt.co.nz

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