Float-plane venture idea grounded

A commercial pilot has withdrawn his plans to establish a float-plane operation on Lake Wakatipu, first mooted in in 2009.

Brent Collins, originally from Blenheim but living in South Africa, applied for land-use consent in 2009 to establish the tourism venture on Lake Wakatipu, which would take people on sightseeing trips primarily from Queenstown to Glenorchy, but which would also include charter trips to Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea.

Mr Collins, an agricultural pilot, originally proposed to have the operation based at St Omer's Wharf in Queenstown, but after consultation amended the base plan to a floating pontoon and water taxi system, located on the Queenstown Gardens side of Queenstown Bay.

The proposal was publicly notified in September last year and by October had attracted more than 80 submissions, from as far afield as Australia and the United Kingdom.

The majority were against the proposal.

Queenstown resident Laurel Parent formed an ad hoc group to oppose the application and said at the time the activity would disrupt the "peaceful Queenstown experience of residents and visitors alike".

In a letter to Lakes Environmental, dated April 17, Rosalind Groves, of John Edmonds & Associates, advised her client wished to withdraw the application and asked for the submitters to be notified and the file closed.

The letter did not provide an explanation as to why the application had been withdrawn.

However, when contacted by the Queenstown Times, Ms Groves said Mr Collins "had to make some decisions and in the end he decided it just wasn't the right [time]".

The submission process had "brought things to a head" and the proposal had been changed markedly to make the float plane proposal more likely to gain consent, she said.

"We whittled it down to a much smaller operation that he was not so keen on."

Options had included removing the Frankton Arm area, where a reserve runway had been planned, and focusing the operations more from Queenstown Airport than Queenstown Bay.

While Ms Groves was "pretty positive" the amended application could gain consent, "he wasn't convinced it would be viable for him".

"We gave him all of the consenting matters that could be resolved, but he had to make a call on whether that was what he wanted to do.

"He didn't want to set up a huge operation [but] he decided to park it for now."

Mr Collins was still "keen" to come to Queenstown at some stage, but believed he needed to mull over his options further, Ms Groves said.

There was a possibility he would lodge a revised application at some time or, alternatively, look to establish the business elsewhere.


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