Gathering discusses airport plan

Maori Point Vineyard owner John Harris (right) calls to order the meeting of more than 50 locals...
Maori Point Vineyard owner John Harris (right) calls to order the meeting of more than 50 locals at his vineyard yesterday afternoon, to discuss the proposed Tarras airport development. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
More than 50 people concerned about a proposed airport development near Tarras gathered at Maori Point vineyard yesterday for the first public meeting since Christchurch Airport made the announcement last week.

Those attending included high country farmers, and residents from as far as away as Cromwell and Wanaka.

Vineyard owner John Harris said he organised the meeting because everyone he knew was "totally surprised by the announcement. It came out of the blue, and I think we need to talk to one another".

"We need to jointly decide how we are going to respond," he said.

On Wednesday last week, Christchurch Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns announced the airport project team had secured 750 hectares of land near Tarras in Central Otago, with the intention of building a world-class sustainable airport.

Mr Johns said Christchurch Airport had spent $45million on the project so far, which included buying the land bordered by State Highways 8 and 8A.

"Our top priority is a conversation with the people who live closest to the site, the Tarras community.

"This is their home and it is important they are given the opportunity to ask us their questions directly and understand our thinking," Mr Johns said.

Mr Harris said he had tried to contact Mr Johns several times since Wednesday to find out when the airport project team was coming to Tarras to meet the locals but had not received an answer so far.

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