Communities’ airport plan views clash

Photo: ODT files.
Photo: ODT files.
Lakes district’s debate over airports is pitting two communities against each other.

The Frankton group Flight Plan2050 has just released to the Otago Daily Times a 77-page draft report promoting the benefits of relocating Queenstown Airport to Tarras.

But on Thursday, the group Sustainable Tarras will tell Christchurch city councillors it does not want an airport.

The Tarras proposal is being pursued by Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL), majority owned by the Christchurch City Council.

It spent $45million buying 750ha of farmland for the purpose earlier this year.

Sustainable Tarras argues the airport will bring air, noise and light pollution to the district.

But the FlightPlan2050 report argues the Tarras proposal would be a "windfall" for the Queenstown Lakes District Council — the majority owner of Queenstown Airport.

It believes the Queenstown council should support CIAL’s proposal instead of pursuing its own agenda — extending noise boundaries at Frankton and developing Wanaka Airport.

"This would relieve council from the obligation and $1.1billion cost of paying for air transport infrastructure."

But it speculates the Queenstown council and its Queenstown Airport Corporation will "ignore" the CIAL proposal and then "aggressively compete head on to protect their patch".

The report begins by saying three international airports within 70km of each other "would be nuts".

"Even two international airports so close together would make no sense.

"A single airport sufficient to service all the region’s communities from one central location would be the best solution."

And it made "no sense" for the Queenstown council to "insist on paying for any infrastructure that someone else has offered to provide", the report said.

It concluded by saying airport development in the region was an issue of national importance, needing co-ordination, but there was no national airport infrastructure plan or planning body as there was with the road network.

"This gives us no confidence that the various stakeholders will develop the best infrastructure framework for the region and the nation’s greater good.

"Central government should lead and direct this process."

The report details the aeronautical and airline advantages of a single airport at Tarras, and lays out the social and economic advantages to Queenstown ratepayers and businesses.

It does not contain a section on the advantages to, or effects on, Tarras.

FlightPlan2050’s full report will be published in June.


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