Bid to raise landings up to 23 daily

Totally Tourism lodged an application to appeal its own resource consent to increase the number of flights at a helicopter landing pad at Arthurs Point at an Environment Court hearing held in Queenstown on Friday last week.

The company has been operating the helipad to fly rafting clients to and from Arthurs Point since 1992. However, a condition of its resource consent meant only the helipad could be used, and then only to transport rafting clients.

A resource consent granted in November 2008 allowed the company to fly all types of people to and from the helipad but restricted landings to an upper limit of four per day. It is still operating under its original consent.

Totally Tourism's counsel Katia Fraser applied for a waiver to appeal the consent outside the appeal period because the number of flights was "very restrictive".

It was now seeking as many flights as possible without breaching noise standards for the area, which was 11 landings per day, averaged over seven days. The maximum number of flights per day would be 23.

Ms Fraser said if Judge Jon Jackson declined the waiver application, the company would surrender the current consent and lodge a new resource consent application with the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC).

The consent is already subject to an Environment Court appeal by the Arthurs Point Protection Society and resident Barry Walters, which would "fall over" if the waiver was not granted, she said.

She said that would mean significant costs for all parties, and the new resource consent was likely to end up back in the Environment Court anyway.

Judge Jon Jackson reserved his decision.

The Arthurs Point Protection Society secretary, Chris Streat, told the hearing the waiver should not be granted because 23 flights on a single day were a different scale and intensity to four and would alter the character and effects of the consent.

He said the original resource consent application did not assess environmental effects.

"No evidence in the original notification was provided supporting the 23 flights now sought, which increases the scope of the application. Consent cannot be granted for more than what is applied for," he said.

The appeal would inconvenience the Environment Court and put the QLDC to additional cost. He wanted its own appeal to proceed without delay.

"The society has been offered the legal services of Dr Kenneth Palmer at no cost. Delays caused by the new appeal may run into years, and times or circumstances when Dr Palmer is no longer available," he said.

Judge Jackson said a hearing, should the waiver be granted, would take place on the week of October 4 or October 11.

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