QLDC and airport compromise on SOI

A social impact assessment for the Queenstown and Wanaka communities would be carried out to...
Photo: ODT files
A "pragmatic" solution to the Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) statement of intent saga appears to have been found.

At the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s last meeting of the year yesterday, councillors voted 9-2 to receive the modified statement of intent (SOI) the previous council rejected in August.

Councillors also approved the appointment of councillors Quentin Smith, Glyn Lewers and Penny Clark to a steering group that would "workshop through outstanding issues around the SOI" with four QAC directors before March 1 next year.

The steering group will also include Mayor Jim Boult, district council chief executive Mike Theelen and QAC chief executive Colin Keel.

It brings an end to a long-running standoff between the airport company and the council during a year in which the latter knocked back this year’s SOI twice.

The SOI is an annual document produced by the QAC - of which the council owns 75.01% - that sets its strategic direction for a three-year period.

The standoff has been driven by a vigorous community debate about the QAC’s strategy for accommodating forecast passenger growth at Queenstown and Wanaka airports.

Last month, the council appointed consultants MartinJenkins to carry out economic, social and environmental impact assessments of expanding Queenstown Airport's noise boundaries and introducing commercial passenger services in Wanaka.

The studies will inform the QAC’s 2020-22 statement of intent.

Cr Smith said although he had been critical of the SOI process to date, it was time for the council to "look forward", and setting up the steering group was a "pragmatic" approach.

Cr John MacDonald agreed, saying the council was "already running late" on the next SOI, while Cr Craig Ferguson said "at long last we’ll get councillors face-to-face with the [QAC] board".

Cr Clark said the SOI process had been "tortuous" for the previous council, but at least it had given the community an opportunity to voice their opinions.

However, Cr Niamh Shaw said what was being proposed was "still an inadequate solution".

"There’s not been an opportunity to meet and discuss this decision collectively."

Cr Nikki Gladding moved that last week’s joint position statement between the council and the QAC be incorporated into the SOI and considered at a special meeting next week, but the motion was defeated 9-2, with only Cr Shaw in support.

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