Public say on flights

The public will have a chance to have its say on whether a Queenstown skydiving company should be allowed to have more flights per day at its airstrip on Remarkables Station, off State Highway 6.

NZOne has lost its fight to have its resource consent application non-publicly notified.

The company applied to the Queenstown Lakes District Council to remove restrictions on the number of flights it can have a day and argued for it to be non-publicly notified at a hearing in Queenstown last month.

Under its existing resource consent, the company is allowed a maximum of 35 flights a day.

It is seeking to remove the restriction and replace it with a 50dBA noise limit as measured from Jacks Point or at the Jardine Homestead on a weekly basis.

In his decision, commissioner David Whitney said the application would have to be notified.

Lakes Environmental planner Wendy Rolls recommended the application be processed with public notice because the proposed activity would have, or was likely to have, adverse effects on the environment that were more than minor.

The applicant seeks flexibility in its consent so that on days when weather conditions are suitable, and there is the demand, it can operate more than 35 daily flights.

The company originally operated Cessna aircraft but was now operating two Cresco aircraft, which were quieter and faster, meaning each trip was shorter.

Lakeside Estate Homeowners Association chairman Martin Issott spoke at the hearing on behalf of 38 owners.

He said the residents had "suffered from the constant noise of the applicants' aircraft droning and whining" over Lakeside Estates and the shrieks and whoops of jumpers were also a nuisance.

Landscape architect and planning and design manager of Darby Partners Ltd, the Jacks Point developer, Duane Te Paa, spoke at the hearing.

He said issues relating to the safety of increased flights had not been addressed.

In his decision, Mr Whitney said the area had "fundamentally changed" since the company began operating.

"The submissions and supporting information presented by the applicant at the hearing have focused primarily on noise effects.

"There are other adverse effects on the environment which should also be considered when making a determination with respect to public notification."

He said the company could operate up to 72 flights per day in summer months if allowed.

The amenity and character of the surrounding area would be changed by a significant increase in the number of flights.

"I come to the view that the proposal . . . is likely to have an adverse effect which is greater than minor on the amenity values enjoyed by those who reside at and visit the Jacks Point resort zone and the Lakeside Estates rural residential zone," he said.

Ms Rolls said the application was on hold.

Lakes Environmental was waiting on the company's decision on whether to proceed with public notification or withdraw the application.

NZOne managing director Lindsay Williams said the company had not decided yet whether to proceed with the application or withdraw it and submit a revised proposal.


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