Council keeps mum on airport alternatives

Queenstown Airport in Frankton. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
Queenstown Airport in Frankton. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
The Queenstown Lakes District Council has declined to say whether alternatives to a dual Queenstown-Wanaka Airport are now up for debate.

On Thursday, Mayor Jim Boult announced measures that will pause some work on the dual airport proposal and provide opportunities for more community input.

However, the council yesterday would not be drawn on whether moving Queenstown Airport would be part of the debate.

"It's too early to confirm what is or isn't going to be up for debate as we will need to work through what the next steps are and scope the programme of work," the spokesman said.

"We will be happy to share that when it is available, which we intend will be quite soon."

The Queenstown Airport Corporation's dual airport proposal is to expand Queenstown and Wanaka Airports.

Two alternatives called for by the Queenstown-based Flight Plan 50 group are for Queenstown Airport to be moved, or ways found to share Queenstown's air traffic with Invercargill and Dunedin Airports.

Group member David Jerram said yesterday Mr Boult's announcement of independent economic and social impact studies was "a fine step forward".

"This is exactly what our group has been asking for all along."

However, he said, the studies "aren't going to get anywhere if [the council] direct them to avoid considering relocation of the airport".

"Mayor Boult asks that people come to the table with some ability to compromise.

"That's fine but I think there are two clear lines in the sand where no compromise is possible.

"These are, no increase in air noise boundaries at Queenstown, and no jets in Wanaka."

And another member of the group who called Mr Boult's statement "spin" on Thursday, Gillian Macleod, said yesterday "surely everything's up for grabs including relocating the airport".

Deputy Mayor Calum Macleod said he did not want to "put any parameters" on what work consultants would do.

"As far as I know it's an independent economic assessment and an independent social assessment, so it's as broad as those need to be.

"The independence, to me, is the vital factor.

"The specifics about looking at new airport sites or conversations to be had with Dunedin or Christchurch, I don't think we've got there yet."

Councillor and Wanaka Community Board chairman Quentin Smith was pleased the community was "being brought back into the discussion" and he was expecting more details at one of the next two council meetings.

Queenstown Stakeholders Group spokesman Glyn Lewers said Mr Boult had shown "true leadership".

"The clear direction given to the Queenstown Airport Corporation announced by the mayor shows that the council is willing to listen and act in the best interests of its residents, business community and tourism sector."

Chairman of the Wanaka Stakeholders group Michael Ross said he was not satisfied Mr Boult had provided an "acceptable or appropriate pathway to a proper resolution" and the group would be seeking further information.

Add a Comment