Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is looking for independent consultants to undertake Economic and Social Impact Assessments on the effects of possibly expanding Queenstown and Wānaka Airports. On Monday, Council announced it had published a Request for Proposals (RFP) on the Government GETS system.
QLDC chief executive Mike Theelan said that, as the majority stakeholder in Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC), Council is keen to ensure its strategic direction to the Board is well informed.
QLDC is looking for recommended approaches for undertaking an assessment of the social and economic effects ‘of a number of possible futures for the airport,’ including ‘growth in Wānaka Airport and/or Queenstown Airport, constraining growth at both or either location and increased collaboration with other regional airports,’ as stated by QLDC.
The intent to undertake the Economic and Social Assessments was signalled in Mayor Jim Boult’s speech on August 8, and the decision to undertake the assessment was considered at the extraordinary Council meeting on August 26.
Theelan said there will be ‘some who will now scrutinise the RFP to find fault or predetermination.’ He said the RFP was deliberately neutral and simple in its approach to help the experts shape the right proposal.
“Frankly the voice we now want to hear is from independent professionals in this space as to how best we should approach this work,” said Theelan.
“In addition to the economic value propositions for the district, Council is also aware of the growing effect of airport traffic on social licence, particularly through recent heightened debate based on incomplete and inaccurate information,” he added. “So we need to understand and measure the social impacts, both positive and negative, of possible changes linked to the two airports to inform decision-making and the community debate.”
He said Council was aware of the ‘many different perspectives on possible development,’ which is why it wanted to make sure that any community engagement is ‘well-informed, balanced and captures a wide range of community views and opinions.’
The assesment’s outputs will be used to inform the QAC 2020-2022 Statement of Intent that will be drafted for March 2020.
The RFP is published on www.gets.govt.nz until October 4 at 5pm.