Nearest ‘yet to hear from airport’

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Christchurch  International Airport executives say they are continuing to meet residents affected by a proposed international airport in Tarras but have refused to name those they have met.

Airport manager communications Yvonne Densem confirmed project leader Michael Singleton "has met with Central Otago people, gathering information and a wide range of views of the proposal".

However, Tarras community spokesman Chris Goddard has disputed the claim.

He said residents who lived nearest the proposed development "have yet to hear from the airport since the town hall [meeting] in August".

Christchurch International Airport Ltd revealed its long-term plan to develop a jet-capable airport, including a 2.2km runway, on 750ha of Tarras farmland it bought for $45million in July.

An urgent public meeting was organised by the Tarras community in early August for residents to discuss their concerns about the proposed development, which was attended by Ms Densem and Mr Singleton.

At the meeting Mr Singleton said he hoped to build trust with residents.

Mr Goddard said his driveway was across the road from the proposed airport site and despite two attempts to engage with the airport team he was "yet to get traction".

"We see the media statements that local engagement is both important and urgent [for Christchurch Airport executives], but we can’t see how it is working on the ground," he said.

He believed there had been no one-on-one meetings with locals, wider community briefings, newsletters or updates other than what he had seen in the media.

"A potential question to ask Christchurch Airport is: what proportion of the 20 or so direct neighbours have yet to be engaged?"

Ms Densem said it was not possible for Mr Singleton to reveal to the Otago Daily Times to whom he had spoken, or when or where.

"These are one-on-one conversations taking the form many people have indicated they want so they feel comfortable to share their views.

"Keeping that commitment means we are gathering a wide range of useful views," Ms Densem said.

A community meeting has been planned for this Sunday at the Tarras Community Hall to allow locals to share their views on the proposed airport with Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean.


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