QLDC Public Forum, We Love Wakatipu Inc chair’s submission

23 July 2020

Good afternoon everyone. I’m Cath Gilmour, speaking for We Love Wakatipu Inc.

Christchurch Airport has certainly thrown a very large, feral cat among the pigeons. Having a competing airport more than four times the size of ZQN within an hour and without any of the constraints of topography, safety, close proximity of thousands of neighbours and strong community opposition adds a much greater, long term complexity to QAC’s strategic planning.

If QAC needed seven months to create a new SOI for post Covid survival, how much longer will they need to deal with both Covid and Christchurch Airport’s plans?

Some points for councillors to consider during this next SOI process;

  • This should take QAC’s push for air noise boundary expansion off the table, for ever.
  • If – for some unfathomable reason – QAC continues to include expansion in the next SOI, you need evidence of why, when you know they can host far more than 5.1 million passengers with existing plane capacity and noise technology.
  • It inherently makes no sense – for our region, our country or climate change – to have three international airports within an hour of each other.
  • The multiple benefits of a relocated airport have been pointed out to you by FlightPlan2050 for over a year but dismissed by the Mayor as “one of the silliest ideas” he had ever heard.
  • Unfortunately, by Christchurch Airport stealing this strategic march on QAC and QLDC, our community loses the economic benefits and the opportunity to control the triggers of growth we could have had from building this new airport.  
  • Air New Zealand’s former CEO Christopher Luxon clearly stated their preference for a safer and less constrained Central Otago airport. The current COO gave further support in media today.
  • Compared to Covid, the long-term loss of flights and airlines to this airport should be sending shivers down QAC’s collective spine. 
  • Then add to this the fact that the current SOI’s property acquisition fund contains less than half the likely $100 million plus price tag of Lot 6.
  • Your financial governance role of QAC has never been so important.  Please exercise it.
  • Both QLDC and QAC must surely by now be questioning the long-term viability of using this valuable Frankton Flats land for an airport that will never escape its constraints of topography, community opposition and proximity to thousands of residents.
  • It is fortuitous QAC’s new chair has such a strong planning background. It will be needed as QAC, council and community pivot to a more sustainable, productive and positive use of this land.  This is where we stand to gain from Christchurch Airport’s strategic win.  FlightPlan2050 have reiterated this opportunity, I need not.
  • You shouldn’t presume the new airport’s planning process will take a long time. As a project of national infrastructural significance that would help post-Covid economic recovery, this is a natural candidate for the expedited system.
  • It is critical this discussion is fed in – now – to Council’s spatial and long-term planning. And that you include our community.  Because the changes at stake are huge and potentially really positive, but alternative uses for ZQN land were expressly and deliberately excluded from community planning workshops.
  • Our community has called for a reset.
  • This must surely be the trigger.
  • Thank you for listening – and I look forward to seeing you at the participative democracy discussions you have all been invited to next Thursday.  

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