Citing climate change, letter urges PM to act to stop airport projects

Site of the proposed international airport at Tarras. Photo: Supplied
Site of the proposed international airport at Tarras. Photo: Supplied
Community groups in Wanaka have written to the prime minister asking for central government to step in and put a stop to a proposed airport expansion at Wanaka and a new airport at Tarras.

The letter — written by the Wanaka Stakeholders Group and supported by six community associations in the Upper Clutha district — outlines concerns about the planned development of jet-capable airports when the Government has declared a climate emergency.

"Government cannot expect on the one hand for other industries, such as agriculture, to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and then on the other hand allow the expansion or development of additional jet aviation capability in New Zealand, thereby enabling activity which will inevitably and significantly increase carbon emissions," the letter addressed to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

The letter was also sent to all Queenstown Lakes District and Christchurch City councillors, and MPs.

Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc chairman Michael Ross said people in Upper Clutha all around New Zealand were concerned about climate change.

"We completed a survey of over 1200 local people last month, including hundreds of business people, and 87% said that they are worried about environmental impacts, with over three-quarters concerned about their quality of life.

"This lines up with research conducted by our local council and government."

The Queenstown Lakes District Council, which owns 75% of the district’s airport company Queenstown Airport Corporation, was not listening, Mr Ross said.

"Despite two years of raising these issues and a challenge in the High Court, the Queenstown Lakes District Council has continued to show no interest in genuine community consultation or open dialogue.

"Even the $205,000 report the district council has commissioned about airports has never been discussed by the full council."

The decision to build carbon-intensive infrastructure was "nothing short of madness", he said.

"New Zealand, like other nations, needs to take immediate and urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Despite plenty of clever public relations and greenwashing, airport companies are not in the business of reducing carbon emissions."

Mr Ross said the group was awaiting the outcome of the judicial review about Wanaka Airport, which was heard over a week-long hearing in the High Court at Queenstown late last year.


With tourism unlikely to get back to pre Covid levels in the near future, at best the Tarras project should be put on hold. Taking into account increasing climate concerns and the strong local opposition it should ideally be canned.

I feel like saying "yes boss" as you speak with some authority - but explain to me, how much of your exports leaves Central Otago by aircraft? If you can't.
Do you do online shopping? Do you order urgent medication? There are old Air NZ Boeings run out of Palmerston North that fly all around NZ at night delivering your mail and during Covid they are busy!

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