The combined residents associations of Hawea, Albert Town, Luggate and Mt Barker attended this morning’s council meeting and presented their joint statement to the councillors. Here is their statement.
JOINT STATEMENT FROM UPPER CLUTHA COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION LEADERS
YES TO THE ENVIRONMENT: NO TO THE AIRPORT EXPANSION
The Upper Clutha Community Association leaders from Albert Town, Hawea, Luggate and Mt Barker, representing the communities closest to the Wanaka Airport, recently met to discuss the impact of the proposed development of that airport.
There is significant concern in the communities around the noise and physical pollution of an expanded airport. The leaders believe that regional services provided by turbo propeller aircraft would be accepted by some residents, in conjunction with the international airports in Dunedin and Invercargill.
However, jet aircraft are unacceptable to the vast majority of our communities and is inherently counter to the position of the QLDC on climate emergency. The Upper Clutha Community Associations applaud the move by the QLDC to declare a climate emergency initiative, as it is consistent with why residents chose to live and work in the district. We see major conflict in council pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting increased aircraft and associated transport.
We recognize the benefits of the convenience of flights to and from Wanaka, however we know from our communities that this is clearly over-ridden by the larger concerns around the impact on the environment, infrastructure and lifestyle. The impact of jet flights from Wanaka is a price we are not prepared to pay.
Significant concern exists around the wider infrastructure needs of the Upper Clutha. Infrastructure is not meeting current levels of need for residents/visitors, let alone the implications of developing a new major airport. The cost of infrastructure falls ultimately to ratepayers - the visitor tax proposed by QLDC would be far from sufficient. The expansion of the airport will exacerbate this acknowledged problem.
Significant concern was also expressed regarding “over-tourism” in the region. The Community Associations believe we are at tipping point already, and a new airport would just open the flood gates further. Even though we welcome visitors, residents should not be catering for an increased demand, but instead placing the focus on protecting our world class region.
The Upper Clutha Community Leaders support the work of the Wanaka Stakeholders Group and Protect Wanaka, and feel it is important to have the voices of their communities also heard in opposition to the proposed Wanaka Airport expansion to jet capable.
April Mackenzie, Chair, Hawea Community Assn
Jerry Rowley, Chair, Mount Barker Residents Assn
Jim Cowie, Chair, Alberttown Community Assn
Graeme Perkins, Chair, Luggate Community Assn