Airport expansion may head to court

The Wanaka Stakeholders Group, who are spearheading the opposition of Wanaka Airport jet-capable expansion, wrote a letter to Mayor Jim Boult yesterday, informing him that legal counsel was now being engaged. The group found Boult’s letter last week to be so inflammatory that their only option now is to head to court. 

The WSG represents 2,082 Upper Clutha members, and is also supported by the associations representing Hawea, Luggate, Mt Barker and Albert Town, whose combined population is approximately 3,500 people. 

Michael Ross, the letter’s author, states, “Given the totally unsatisfactory responses which we have all received to our various concerns about QLDC’s and QAC’s intentions and plans regarding the redevelopment and expanded future operation of the airport at Wanaka, we write to make WSG’s position clear ahead of Council considering what changes it requires to be made to the final Statement of Intent (SOI) following the decisions made by Council at its last meeting in Queenstown on June 27th. 

“The SOI in its present form is totally inconsistent with the promises and suggestions that 

QLDC retains any meaningful control over decisions whether to redevelop the existing airport at Wanaka. In fact, it suggests the complete opposite. 

“WSG has now engaged solicitors and senior barristers, including Queen’s Counsel, to assist with the preparation of court proceedings — should they be necessary... 

“Unless this matter can be resolved satisfactorily, WSG will be issuing judicial review 

proceedings to establish the unlawfulness and unreasonableness of such decisions and actions and therefore: to prevent QLDC and QAC from formulating and acting upon any decisions to build and operate a new Wanaka Airport and to require QLDC —  if it wishes to dispose of any part of its 100 percent ownership and control of the existing Wanaka airport — to comply fully with all applicable prohibitions and consultation requirements of the Local Government Act.” 

The Wanaka Sun asked QLDC for comment but was told, "Thanks for providing us with the chance to respond. However, we will not be commenting on the WSG’s letter."

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Full text of the WSG letter:

 

Dear Mayor Boult 

1. At the time of writing this letter, Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc. (“WSG”) represents 2,082 members who include business owners, residents and ratepayers of the district, principally from the Upper Clutha communities and Wanaka in particular, and our membership is growing daily. It is also supported by the associations representing Hawea, Luggate, Mt Barker and Albert Town, whose combined population is approximately 3,500 people. 

2. Given the totally unsatisfactory responses which we have all received to our various concerns about QLDC’s and QAC’s intentions and plans regarding the redevelopment and expanded future operation of the airport at Wanaka, we write to make WSG’s position clear ahead of Council considering what changes it requires to be made to the final Statement of Intent (SOI) following the decisions made by Council at its last meeting in Queenstown on June 27th. 

3. The SOI in its present form is totally inconsistent with the promises and suggestions that QLDC retains any meaningful control over decisions whether to redevelop the existing airport at Wanaka. In fact, it suggests the complete opposite. 

4. WSG has now engaged solicitors and senior barristers, including Queen’s Counsel, to assist with the preparation of court proceedings - should they be necessary. 

4.1. WSG is of the clear view that the actions and decisions taken, and various agreements apparently reached between QLDC and QAC in relation to the Wanaka Airport (which we shall refer to as the "existing Wanaka Airport”) are unlawful. In summary we believe that the decisions and agreements entered into between QLDC and QAC authorise QAC to not only manage the “existing Wanaka airport” but also to - in substance - have acquired the airport by the mechanism of a privately negotiated, confidentially held, 100 year lease - enabling QAC to then alter and develop a Wanaka Airport into a new and materially different airport operation. 

4.2. Unless this matter can be resolved satisfactorily, WSG will be issuing judicial review proceedings to establish the unlawfulness and unreasonableness of such decisions and actions and therefore:- 

4.2.1. to prevent QLDC and QAC from formulating and acting upon any decisions to build and operate a “new Wanaka Airport” and 

4.2.2. to require QLDC - if it wishes to dispose of any part of its 100% ownership and control of the “existing Wanaka airport” - to comply fully with all applicable prohibitions and consultation requirements of the Local Government Act. 

5. We look forward to your reply. Before you formulate any reply on behalf of QLDC, we invite you and every councillor to read a recent post on our website. The article was published last weekend, and is written by a Wanaka resident who, like our members, feels strongly about this issue. The article encapsulates the importance of the issues and the motivation of WSG to fight to ensure that any decisions about Wanaka Airport are reasonable, made lawfully and only after full consultation with, and with the support of the people of Wanaka and of the Upper Clutha communities. 

We look forward to your reply, 


 

Yours sincerely 

Michael Ross Chair, Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc. 


 


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