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Proposed night flights at Queenstown Airport would have "significant and widespread adverse noise effects" for residents in Frankton, Kelvin Heights, Jacks Point and Lake Hayes Estate, a hearing in Queenstown was told yesterday.
The Queenstown Airport corporation (QAC) wants to expand the noise boundaries and permit night flights to arrive in Queenstown between 10pm and midnight, allowing for tourism growth to 2037.
Lawyer John Young made a submission on the proposal on behalf of Frankton landowners Remarkables Park Ltd and Shotover Park Ltd.
He said the corporation's proposal lacked information and its mitigation measures were vague.
The two companies had employed their own acoustic expert, Malcolm Hunt, who calculated thousands of households would be affected by increased noise levels, compared with the "paltry 37 houses" referred to by the corporation.
Remarkables Cres resident Denis Mander told the hearing he was concerned about safety and the increased crash risk with night flights.
He said flights to midnight would lead to the degradation of the neighbourhood, increase traffic and reduce the enjoyment of the outdoors.
"It is unacceptable to expect us to not open windows on summer nights and to expect us to bear the cost of running air-conditioning," he said, and called for independent monitoring of the noise effects and for results to be publicly available.
Air New Zealand Ltd's (ANZL) counsel Liz Hardacre said the company did not oppose night flights, but did not intend to fly the two hours' proposed extension to the operating hours.
There was no market for the additional two-hour period.
The company supported the plan change's intention to provide for future development, however it had some concerns.
"ANZL is not convinced that some of the proposed measures sought are the most appropriate means by which to achieve robust future planning.
"ANZL does not support as unnecessary and inappropriate the introduction of a night noise boundary," she said.
The corporation had promised to install insulation in the 37 houses within the night noise boundary but had not explored the cost, she said.
ANZL was worried the airport would pass on the cost to the airline through increased landing charges or departure taxes.
ANZL acoustic engineer Robert Bullen told the commissioners the night noise boundary was not an appropriate way of mitigating noise effects.
"Given the number of residences located outside, but close to, this boundary, and the small number of residences within it, the relatively low levels of chronic sleep disturbance ... would be experienced largely by residents outside the boundary," he said.
The boundary would exacerbate public reaction to noise effects by creating "winners and losers residents who qualify for noise insulation on one side of the line and those who do not qualify on the other side".
A better way to mitigate would be to encourage pilots to descend into Queenstown Airport from the east and to use a "continuous descent profile" which produces fewer emissions and less noise.
The hearing before commissioners Bob Batty, David Clarke and Stephen Chiles continues today.