Night flight appeal court option aired

If the Queenstown Airport Corporation appealed a decision declining consent for night flights to the resort, Frankton residents could consider joining Environment Court proceedings, Frankton Community Association vice-chairman Richard Stringer said yesterday.

The first meeting of the new Queenstown Lakes District Council will be held in Queenstown on Tuesday morning, and on the agenda is a recommendation to adopt the decision of independent commissioners Bob Batty, Stephen Chiles and David Clarke on QAC's private plan change 35.

The commissioners recommended the council allow the airport to extend its noise boundaries and mitigate and manage noise, but recommended the airport not be allowed to cater for flights between 10pm and midnight.

If the council votes to adopt the recommendation, parties, including submitters, would have 15 working days to appeal the decision to the Environment Court.

Mr Stringer said Frankton residents were delighted with the recommendation.

"Overwhelmingly, there was a great deal of concern about there being flights after 10pm."

If the council were to adopt the commissioners' recommendations it would mean QAC would embark on an acoustic insulation programme, ensuring homes within the noise boundaries were suitably insulated.

Mr Stringer said until the decision the issue of "compensation" for homes inside the noise boundaries had been a "grey area".

"With the noise boundaries, a lot of residents have said to us they had no idea what their rights were if they are inside the noise boundary, if they were thinking of renovating or selling their homes.

"I don't think anyone buys [a home] in that area not expecting there to be some noise disruption.

"Everyone accepts you live in Frankton and there's an airport there ... but between 10pm and midnight, that sound would have disrupted the whole [Wakatipu] basin."

It was too soon to say what the community association, which represents the 700 households in Frankton, would do if an appeal to allow night flights was taken to the Environment Court, he said.

"It just depends on the cost and time. We're only a little community association with little funding."

Meanwhile, Destination Queenstown chief executive Tony Everitt said the "critical point" was the recommendation had not yet been adopted by the council so the issue was "still a bit indeterminate at this stage".

"We'll be waiting to see what that decision is next week.

"Obviously, we anticipate growth for tourism in Queenstown. It's obviously important that growth is allowed to happen because it's going to be beneficial to the [district]."

While Mr Everitt was glad to see the airport would be allowed to expand its noise boundary - which would cater for growth in the number of flights until 2037, when a projected 20,000 flights would move through Queenstown - there were still discussions to be had and "some analysis" to be done on the impact of disallowing night flights.

"With the night flights, we did understand that if that decision is adopted and that's still to be determined ... there would be further discussions with airlines [and QAC] about how that is managed.

"The overall good news is the airport is going to be able to grow and that will be great."


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