Wānaka Stakeholders proceed to High Court

Wānaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) will continue to a hearing in the High Court regarding the proposed development of Wānaka Airport.

The hearing has been confirmed for the week commencing September 21, 2020. 

“We are asking the court to declare the so-called ‘lease’ of Wānaka Airport unlawful and restore full ownership and control of Wānaka Airport and Project Pure (two strategic community assets) to Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) for the benefit of our community,” WSG said.

WSG is a community group giving voice to those opposing the development of a jet airport at Wānaka’s community airport, just ten minutes from the town. According to WSG, the idea of Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) building a second jet airport just an hour’s drive from Queenstown Airport, in order primarily to bring in more and more tourists to Queenstown and surrounding communities is “unnecessary, undesirable and against the best interests of the wellbeing of our community.”

In late March, WSG invited QLDC to resolve the judicial review proceedings against them by suggesting all parties agree to a reset and avoid litigation, requesting that Wānaka Airport and Project Pure be returned to the Council. 

QLDC Mayor Jim Boult confirmed that QLDC would not agree to this. In his letter in April, he wrote: “It remains the Council’s position that there has already been formal, lawful and appropriate public consultation undertaken in respect of the governance and management structure of Wānaka Airport via the Special Consultative Procedure undertaken in 2016-17. If WSG’s proposal of a “total reset” refers to an unwinding of the lease, this will not be considered.”

WSG said they were this week “finalising our substantial amount of evidence for filing with the court at the end of this month.” 

“Earlier this year, the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic began to take their toll on the previous growth projections QAC and some that QLDC rely on - it was clear that ever-increasing inbound tourism and international air travel numbers were plummeting, and would likely not return for some time.

“We are now forced to continue on to a hearing in the High Court. QLDC’s position is clearly not acceptable to us.”

After last week’s shock announcement from CIAL that they intend to build an international jet airport at Tarras, WSG is “watching carefully” to see if and how CIAL fulfills its commitment to consult the residents of Tarras and other communities which will be affected. 

“There is no doubt that all surrounding communities, including those of Tarras, Queensberry, Luggate, Hawea, Wanaka and Cromwell would be significantly impacted by the development of an international airport.” 

“On behalf of our thousands of members, we note that many of the concerns we have raised in relation to the jet airport proposal at the existing Wanaka Airport are likely to also apply to an international jet airport in Tarras, just 20 minutes further from Wanaka by car.”

There was a community meeting last night on the issue.

View edition 985 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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