Associations unite to oppose jets

Leaders of the Lake Hawea, Albert Town, Luggate and Mt Barker Community Associations who have...
Leaders of the Lake Hawea, Albert Town, Luggate and Mt Barker Community Associations who have formed a new group opposed to jet services at Wanaka Airport. They are (from left) John Coers (Mt Barker member), April McKenzie (Lake Hawea chairwoman), Murray Gardiner (Lake Hawea vice-chairman), Graeme Perkins (Luggate chairman), Jerry Rowley (Mt Barker chairman), Heather Macleod (Albert Town member), Jim Cowie (Albert Town chairman) and Rod Anderson (Luggate member).PHOTO: MARK PRICE
Four organisations representing those who would live under or near the flight path of commercial aircraft using an expanded Wanaka Airport have united to express their opposition to jets.

The Lake Hawea, Luggate, Albert Town and Mt Barker Community Associations represent about 3500 Upper Clutha residents.

Their leaders met at the airport yesterday to finalise a joint statement to be put to the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) meeting in Wanaka on Thursday.

Spokeswoman April McKenzie said the group held the same view as the Protect Wanaka group, which has been vocal in its opposition to jet aircraft.

"As the group of residents most closely affected, we wanted to get in behind Protect Wanaka but just make sure the QLDC understood it was our own independent view.''

The Queenstown Airport Corporation is proposing to spend up to $400 million developing Wanaka Airport to take commercial flights and ease the pressure on Queenstown Airport.

It is projecting demand to reach 3.2 million passenger movements by 2025 and 7.1 million by 2045.

Ms McKenzie said the group accepted the need for small turbo-prop aircraft at Wanaka Airport but objected to jet aircraft, mainly because of the number of passengers they might bring and the lack of infrastructure to handle them.

"While we would welcome regional services ... whether it's to Dunedin, Christchurch or Invercargill, we don't want a jet-capable airport.''

Ms McKenzie said her association acknowledged Upper Clutha residents would find it "terribly convenient'' to fly from Wanaka.

"But that doesn't mean we want jet capable.''

Ms McKenzie said there were a number of environmental differences between turbo-prop and jet aircraft.

"There's numbers, pollution, noise pollution, infrastructure challenges, over-tourism challenges. Do we need an international-capable airport here when there's one in Queenstown, one in Invercargill, one in Christchurch?

"Let's be realistic.''

Asked why she believed it was necessary for the group to be formed, Ms McKenzie said the four associations were concerned the council was not properly representing affected residents.

"There's a level of anxiety that the QLDC isn't really representing the people it was elected to represent.''

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