Request for airport survey declined

Wanaka Airport. Photo: ODT files
Wanaka Airport. Photo: ODT files
The call by the Wanaka Stakeholders Group for an independent survey of Upper Clutha public opinion on the development of Wanaka Airport has been rejected by the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

In a letter to group convener Michael Ross earlier this week, QLDC chief executive Mike Theelen said he was confident the Queenstown Airport Corporation's (QAC) statement of intent would "reinforce the need for the company to work closely with its affected stakeholders and community groups, and that council will need to hold its company to account".

"Accordingly, I do not see the need or desirability to seek some separate mandate or view for Wanaka Airport ahead of the statement of intent being signed, but I am committed to ensuring that the airport company consults effectively."

Mr Ross requested the survey in a letter last week arguing the QLDC had not engaged with the Upper Clutha community over the QAC's master plan for Wanaka Airport, due to be made public later this year.

In his letter, Mr Theelen made it clear development of Wanaka Airport was a matter for the Queenstown Lakes district rather than for just the Upper Clutha.

"You have made the point that the Upper Clutha community needs the right to have their say, and to exercise community control.

"The future of the district's air services is a matter for the entire community, and as you know, there are issues around the growth of Queenstown Airport as well which will influence Wanaka decisions and vice versa.

"Between both sites, the airports have the capacity to support demand across the district, and the wider region.

"The future development of both sites will increasingly become interdependent."

Mr Theelen said the council's position was that the "re-introduction of a dual airport model servicing the entire district is our strategic intent".

He considered the "overall direction" for Wanaka Airport had been "well telegraphed to the community" including as part of a 2016-17 statement of proposal.

"That consultation clearly anticipated further development of Wanaka, with a view to returning commercial services to the facility, and the restoration (and development) of a level of service previously enjoyed by the community."

Mr Theelen said misinformation about Wanaka Airport's future had created "some disquiet", which the QAC and the community needed to address together.


 

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