WLW article in Queenstown Trading and Queenstown News

By We Love Wakatipu Inc, 4 Mar 2020

“There’s now just one week left for us all to have our say about whether we want turbo-charged growth at Queenstown Airport with all its downstream effects. Or not.

QAC’s plans to more than double passengers and triple flights at Queenstown Airport have met staunch community opposition since being announced in 2018. 92.5% of over 1500 submissions were opposed. All our Community Associations, Destination Queenstown, Chamber of Commerce and more than 20 major businesses unanimously opposed it. Including Real Journeys, part of the South Island’s biggest tourism company, which Mayor Jim Boult chairs.

But council didn’t hear this unequivocal response and instead commissioned MartinJenkins to do airport growth economic and social impact assessments to get community feedback. The same consultants wrote council’s “Sustaining Tourism Growth in Queenstown” 2018 report, saying airport investment was required.

We Love Wakatipu Inc is one of many who have raised serious concerns about the validity, objectivity, transparency and robustness of this process. These have not been addressed by QLDC or Martin Jenkins.

Yet we’re encouraging people to take part in this fundamentally flawed process – because it’s our best chance within that process to get our community’s voice heard.

We’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who find the questions confusing, information inadequate and that it takes too long to respond to hypothetical scenarios when all they want to say is what matters to them.

So We Love Wakatipu sought and received commitment from Martin Jenkins that they will accept survey responses that just fill in the two open-ended questions (#14 and 31 if you fill in the demographics, 12 and 29 if you don’t) They would prefer you fill in the demographics and we agree.
We also got their commitment to accept submissions already made to the 2018 QAC consultation process – send them to survey@martinjenkins.co.nz attention Donella.

Queenstown’s community, environment and infrastructure is crumbling in the face of unbridled growth. The one growth lever our council and community can control is the airport. We Love Wakatipu believes our councillors should do that – not Auckland-based QAC directors, not big business and not demands of international airlines.

And last week, they made their first explicit move to do so – rejecting expansion of the air noise boundary as part of their “statement of expectations” for QAC, against senior staff advice. The only two who didn’t were Mayor Boult and Cr Penny Clarke.

So, there is hope of being heard this time.

If you don’t want more airport noise, more congestion, more of all the impacts that 7.1 million airline passengers a year would bring – please fill in the survey and say so, loudly, before March 11.

If you want to know more about impacts, how to get involved, councillors’ role and much more, visit our website https://protectqueenstown.nz/ and like https://www.facebook.com/WeLoveWakatipu/ And while you’re there, please join We Love Wakatipu (free, confidential and takes less than a minute) to support our Protect Queenstown campaign.

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