We Love Wakatipu Inc supporter John Hilhorst’s letter, 19 July, 2021

Another call has been made for government scrutiny of council leadership’s subversion of councillors’ authority to control QAC’s objectives and the nature and scope of its activities.

WLW supporter John Hilhorst has written today to the Ombudsman and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, asking them to review the continued undermining of the Local Government Act, democracy and councillors’ roles and responsibilities.

As he says, “the district is at a crossroads and the decisions made in the next few years will lock in an infrastructural framework for generations, with far-reaching effects.”

See his Official Complaint addressed to Council CEO Mike Theelen below.

We Love Wakatipu Inc commentary, 13 July, 2021

We Love Wakatipu Inc has asked Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to review our council’s governance of Queenstown Airport Corporation.  This comes after three years of pointing out fundamental mistruths in executive team agenda items and resultant flaws in Council’s decision-making process that subvert democracy and community well-being – QLDC’s two legally mandated purposes.

We appended to our letter our official letter of complaint to council CEO Mike Theelen and consequent email communications with our councillors. Plus the email sent to councillors to remind them that legally – quoting senior counsel for both QLDC and QAC speaking in High Court last November – they have “total control” of QAC through the statement of intent.

Unfortunately, to date, they have not been willing to use this to do what nine of the 11 promised on the election hustings – to oppose the expansion of Queenstown Airport’s air noise boundaries.


July 13, 2021.

Kia ora Minister,

I write regarding an official complaint I made recently about Queenstown Lakes District Council’s continued misleading statements as to the purpose of local government in agenda items regarding Queenstown Airport Corporation’s statement of intent (SOI).  I request a ministerial review of the council’s poor governance of its CCTO, which subverts the legislation’s intent, community well-being and our rights to democratic decision-making and actions.

Appended you will find my complaint and the responses of council CEO Mike Theelen and two councillors.

You will note that Mr Theelen acknowledged this mistake this year (a first) but responded that this did not really matter because the argument still stood.  In his mind, it seems, the purpose of providing cost-effective infrastructure (to meet airline demands) translates directly into promoting well-being and enabling democracy.

An official complaint has also separately been made about Mr Theelen’s repeated claim that the council must agree to the SOI for QAC to be compliant. This is also untrue – QAC is compliant as long as the SOI is delivered by June 30. Which it was.

These two false claims (and others, but these are the two most egregious) have been repeated in Mr Theelen’s SOI agenda items since the change in purpose under the Local Government Act in May 2019, despite this being pointed out each time by myself and others.

Together, these two mistruths enable the executive team to falsely tell councillors they must agree under pressure to the SOI (the council meeting is held 1 to 2 days prior to the supposed July 1 deadline) and that growth of dividend, shareholders’ value and capacity to meet airline demand are the purposes they must meet. 

None of these purposes is a mandated purpose of QLDC, nor of the CCTO it purportedly controls, under the LGA or any other legislation.

This false narrative encourages councillors to ignore their two actual purposes under the LGA. Democracy is not enabled nor well-being promoted by the statements of intent thus passed.  The air noise boundary (ANB) expansion that each SOI has enabled planning of has been strongly and consistently opposed by the community since it was mooted in 2018. This has been ignored by our elected representatives each time, despite election season promises to the contrary.

I also append an email sent to councillors late last year, in the wake of arguments given by both their and QAC legal counsel to the High Court judge (who subsequently overturned QLDC’s illegal lease of Wanaka Airport to QAC) that the council has “total control” over QAC through its SOI.  This LGA mandate has been denied both in agenda items and verbally by Mayor Jim Boult and his executive team for the past three years and was again given no credence this year.

Briefly, other incursions of the proper process with regard to QLDC governance of QAC include:

  • Prior to the 2019 mayoral election, four Chamber of Commerce members warned Mr Boult he would lose the election unless he responded to the community’s opposition to the expansion of Queenstown Airport’s ANB. At the start of the council meeting several days later, he unilaterally announced council would commission an independent socio-economic impact report of different airport growth scenarios. Councillors were informed of this announcement by email the night before; no opportunity for input was given. He assured the voting public that councillors’ decisions would be guided post-election by the report’s findings.
  • However, full council has never discussed the resultant MartinJenkins report nor agreed on how their decisions should reflect it. Nor have SOI agenda items.
  • The report itself was fundamentally flawed. Many of these flaws seemed designed to skew the results in favour of ANB expansion. These included the banning of discussion about potential closure of ZQN in favour of a new airport elsewhere and alternate urban use of this land, or the opportunity cost of not doing so.
  • Despite these flaws, the MartinJenkins report repeated the strong public feedback of the initial 2018 QAC consultation, in which 92.5% of over 1500 responses opposed ANB expansion. Despite not being allowed to discuss potential benefits of a Tarrras area airport freeing up Queenstown Airport land, a third international airport in this location was the preferred option.
  • Bullying and silencing of councillors who dare to question or speak up against the leadership team’s narrative about the need for untrammelled airport growth and dismissal of community concerns about the downstream ramifications of this. (E.G. the executive team tells councillors 92.5% opposition is just 3% of the population.)
  • Over the past three years, there has not been one meeting or workshop of councillors to discuss and agree on the strategic objectives QAC, a council-controlled trading organisation, must achieve through their statement of intent.  Meeting such objectives – both financial and non-financial – is the purpose of a CCTO under the LGA.
  • The Wanaka Airport lease to QAC was overturned as illegal by High Court judge Gerard van Bohemen because of poor process and inadequate consultation. Defending council’s actions in court cost ratepayers over $300,000. The case was taken by Wanaka Stakeholders Group, at their own cost.
  • This lease was unanimously signed off by councillors last term, despite the fact only the negotiating team of the mayor, two councillors and CEO had seen it. This lease included passing responsibility and cost for moving Project Pure, Council’s sewage treatment scheme, to Council should QAC want to expand the airport over this land. When this raised controversy, council quietly moved it to the 10-year plan as a council project to future-proof the airport, despite questions over its necessity now.
  • A joint QAC/QLDC steering group was formed last year to guide and supposedly better inform the SOI process. The resultant effect was that councillors outside this small group lost visibility of the process and had little input to SOI’s over the past two years.
  • This steering group did not even meet after the High Court overturned the Wanaka Airport lease. This obviously had a significant impact on the SOI, previously based on QAC’s “dual airport” strategy, as Wanaka airport is no longer their asset to control.
  • This year’s Statement of Expectation for the SOI was written by CEO Mike Theelen, with no sign off by councillors, who were not unanimous in their acceptance of it.
  • Under the new SOI, QAC’s strategic 10-year plan will be guided by the Spatial Plan and Frankton master plan. Again, discussion of any alternative use of the airport land was forbidden during the community consultation phase of these plans.  Both plans were explicitly based on the fundamental premise of continued and expanded use of Wakatipu’s flattest, largest, most geotechnically stable and developable block of land by New Zealand’s most dangerous airport, in the middle of a hostile community.
  • This new SOI has also largely locked councillors out of both the strategic plan and QAC master plan.  Both will be developed behind boardroom doors, out of visibility of both council and community.  This retracts the council sign off of the masterplan won during the last SOI process. (I append relevant High Court judge comments.)
  • This year’s SOI also gave QAC freedom to rewrite their own constitution, with no defined process and no guaranteed council input or strategic direction. The last time the Constitution was rewritten was in the wake of QAC secretly selling 24.99% of ZQN to Auckland International Airport, a fact they announced to councillors (apart from the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and CEO, who knew but had been sworn to secrecy) one hour prior to their public announcement. The 2012 constitution rewrite was done at the behest of and by Council in response.
  • Christchurch International Airport Limited’s Tarras proposal was used to justify greater secrecy through the SOI in the name of commercial sensitivity – including many of the moves above. 
  • Rather than look at possible opportunities for collaboration, more efficient airport infrastructure network, climate change mitigation and use of the ZQN land that might benefit both profit and community well-being, QLDC has agreed to an SOI that looks at this proposal only from the perspective of commercial risk.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it hopefully gives a flavour of the council’s blinkered, improper and inadequate approach to QAC governance.

The repeated and ongoing misstatements in the SOI agenda items suggest incompetence and/or a deliberate attempt to corral councillors into a pro-growth SOI, against the consistent and strong opposition of the community, whose well-being is their mandated responsibility.

How does this happen? Because there is a largely compliant core of councillors led by a dominant and conflicted mayor, who silences, dismisses and puts down councillors and community members who dare to question or dissent.

Mr Boult was CEO of Christchurch International Airport Limited for six years and chair or acting chair for five years, earning just under $3 million in these roles. So you can understand that most councillors might believe they can trust his authoritative statements on airport matters and legislation. Wrongly so.  

It is notable that the mayor of QLDC is also chair of the South Island’s largest tourism company, Wayfare Group. When challenged that this was a conflict-of-interest on votes that would either enable or rein in airport growth, a councillor subcommittee decided it was not because his chairmanship fee was only a small part of his income.

However, they did not address the other two planks of conflict of interest – whether a person has an interest greater than a general member of the public in the outcome of a decision, and whether the public would perceive this to be so. On both these counts, Mayor Boult is strongly conflicted. He is the dominant voice in continuing to allow QAC to plan for ANB expansion through the SOI. And he always supports the mistruths described above.

I raised this conflict-of-interest issue in public forum at a 2019 council meeting. Within half an hour, while the meeting was still ongoing, the council’s PR man had put out a press release denying any such conflict existed. He described the absence of Mr Boult’s Wayfare Group chairmanship on the council’s registry of interests as an administrative slipup.

Mr Boult made the same “administrative slip up” in an interview with Newsroom’s David Williams just prior to the last election. When asked directly about the conflict-of-interest his chairmanship of Real Journeys presented, he said he had resigned from that position. He omitted to mention he was appointed chair of the holding company that includes Real Journeys, Go Orange, Treble Cone, Cardrona and other tourism businesses that same day.

On the basis of the above factors, I urge you to please undertake a ministerial review of QLDC’s governance of Queenstown Airport Corporation. Their practices subvert both the intent of the LGA and the interests of the community, in favour of big tourism business.

You will also no doubt know that Christchurch International Airport Ltd has bought land in Tarras for a new international airport.  We are now confronted with the prospect of three international airports within 75 km of each other – with decisions being made by two siloed CCTO’s with no overall strategic framework in terms of climate change mitigation, cost/carbon efficient nationwide air travel network, best use of valuable land or social licence for tourism.

I have also submitted to the Infrastructure Commission suggesting that there should be nationwide coordination of transport infrastructure, and particularly airports, along the lines of Waka Kotahi/NZTA, to better meet the challenges mentioned above. I urge you to support this. Tauranga and Kapiti airports are other examples of this need.

The issues I have raised above clearly show that wise decisions on New Zealand’s airport infrastructure network are beyond the capacity, capability and vision of councillors acting in competitive silos. Nor do they have responsibility, accountability or knowledge for ensuring the most efficient, cost-effective and climate change minimising nationwide network.

In terms of my background, I have been a journalist and community advocate covering issues and politics in Queenstown since 1995. I was a QLDC councillor for nine years, until stepping down four years ago, and an independent RMA Commissioner.

I am chair of We Love Wakatipu Inc, formed to support the community’s fight against the expansion of Queenstown Airport’s air noise boundary, and Catalyst Trust, a group set up to bring informed community debate of public issues and mental stimulation to the Wakatipu. For more depth on the issues described above, please visit the Protect Queenstown/We Love Wakatipu Inc website (see especially ‘latest news’ column) and Facebook pages. Or feel free to contact me directly.

Ngā mihi nui

Cath Gilmour

(Appendix 1 on next page)

Appendix 1

From the High Court judgement of Judge Gerard van Bohemen, in the Wanaka Stakeholders Group case against QLDC on the illegal lease of Wanaka Airport to QAC

(229)  It is clear from the purpose and the provisions of the LGA that major decisions taken by a local authority with respect to its strategic assets must be taken only after a process in which the community has been consulted openly and transparently in accordance with the LGA. QLDC has failed to meet that essential requirement. If the lease is not set aside, the public’s ability to have a say in the future use of the airport over the next 100 plus years will be limited.

(230) While QAC has said it would consult the public as part of the master planning process, it is clear from Mr Keel’s description of that process that the public consultation envisaged is an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft master plan, after the technical work and consideration of options have been completed and a draft masterplan, including preferred options, has been prepared. While it is understandable that QAC would want to consult at the point that it has developed its preferred options, it is also likely that the scope for influencing the proposed decision will be limited, given the investment of time and money that will have already been made in developing the preferred options. Such a consultation will also be at QAC’s discretion and outside of the LGA’s process. I do not consider that to be an appropriate result following a failure by QLDC to comply with the LGA.

ENDS

By Cath Gilmour, We Love Wakatipu Inc chair

Kia ora councillors and thank you for all your work.

You know now that contrary to information in today’s agenda, you do not need to agree to this SOI for QAC to be legally compliant.  It already is, whether you agree to it, table it or reject it.

And again, contrary to the information in your agenda for the past three years, the purpose of local government is to enable democratic action and promote the four community well-beings – not provide cost-efficient infrastructure.

In other words, today’s report recommends you agree to an SOI justified by a totally different purpose to why you were elected to sit around this table.

Mr Theelen, in his response to my official complaint about the false information in today’s agenda, told me that that is okay, this analysis still stands true.

This beggars belief. Council’s actual purposes are not even mentioned.  Much less analysed.

I acknowledge that this SOI is better written than previous ones. It even gives a nod to local government’s actual purposes – which, as a council-controlled trading organisation, QAC is meant to achieve.

But at its core, the SOI wrongfully gives your governance role to QAC.

It justifies doing so by a narrative that morphs community well-being into meeting airline demand and creating long-term value for shareholders, business partners and, last in line, communities.

This false narrative has been perpetuated by three years of hands-off, growth-focussed governance, justified by targeting the fundamentally wrong purpose.

I will concentrate on the components of this SOI most damaging to both our democracy and our wellbeing:

  1. Continued insistence on potential growth of the air noise boundary. The SOI only commits to not doing so until July 1, 2022 – or perhaps 2025.
  2. QAC’s 10-year strategic plan being written by QAC, with no guaranteed council strategic input and just “having regard for feedback” from shareholders. This is legalese for “feel free to ignore”. There is zero community input or visibility – ever.
  3. The loss of council sign-off on airport master planning. Seeking council endorsement and having regard to feedback again is licence to ignore. Community consultation won’t take place until after this plan is produced.  Consultation works when it helps design the ship, not tries to turn around the juggernaut once launched.
  4. This same simile applies to QAC rewriting its constitution – with no process identified or council strategic input. You, as our elected representatives, must have more real input than final sign off.

Remember both your and QAC lawyers told the High Court that council had “total control” over QAC through the SOI. The judge still overturned council’s illegal Wanaka airport lease – because of poor process and inadequate consultation.

It’s time to stop the resultant downward spiral in community trust and claim back governance control. 

This is your role – not the executive team’s and not the QAC board’s.

Please, reject the SOI, make the necessary changes and stop the erosion of our communities’ well-being and democracy.

John Hilhorst letter, WLW commentary, 29th June, 2021

Today, QLDC was sent a second official complaint about continued untrue statements in the agenda item for tomorrow’s council meeting decision on Queenstown Airport Corporation’s statement of intent.

In what again appears a deliberate attempt to subvert the purpose of the legislation, and our community’s democratic rights, Councillors have been told that they must agree to the SOI to enable QAC to be compliant.

This is not true. QAC is compliant by delivering its final SOI by deadline. It did so.

Perpetuating this myth puts pressure on councillors to agree to an SOI that gives power, wielded invisibly, to QAC.

We Love Wakatipu Inc commentary, 27 June 2021

After three years of pointing out the QLDC executive team’s repeated misleading statements of councillors’ role and responsibility under the Local Government Act with regard to QAC’s vital statement of intent, WLW has finally made an official complaint.

This has been the most egregious of repeated false statements in executive team agenda items on the SOI, which have together allowed them to keep pushing QAC’s narrative that it must push for continued growth, meet airline demand and provide a shareholder dividend.

None of which is true. We look forward to Council’s response. And  a more honest discussion at Wednesday’s council meeting.

DQ “Special Remarks” email to members, 25 June 2021

It will be interesting to see how much of a say the community has in this regenerative tourism plan – with DQ, Lake Wanaka Tourism and QLDC in charge of the process. Community does get mentioned, but peripherally.

LINK HERE to the newsletter.

Otago Daily Times, 26.05.21

Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says the government will not step into Christchurch International Airport Limited’s Tarras International Airport decision-making process.

We Love Wakatipu Inc submitted to the national infrastructure plan that airport infrastructure should come under a national aviation body because the costs, land use, climate change and other impacts should not be decided by competing local authorities.

But he did say the project would need resource consent, a public process where effects on both local community and environment would be tested.

A correction was put in the ODT the following day, stating the asset value of the Christchurch International Airport is $1.8 billion and CIAL did pay a dividend, of $20 million, in the pandemic-afflicted 2020 financial year. 

QAC didn’t pay any dividend in 2020 and none is expected this year.

May 24, 2021

Dear all,

it’s been a long time since a We Love Wakatipu Inc catch up newsletter, and a heck of a lot has been happening despite Covid 19’s aviation and global tourism slowdown.

We will keep it as short as we can by including links to our Facebook posts so that those who want to take deeper dives into the issues can do so. So grab a coffee or something stiffer and here’s your chance to catch up with happenings on the QAC and council fronts over the last 6 months.

Council by-election – happening now!

If you are a registered Wakatipu ward voter, you should have received your voting papers. Your choice is between retired lawyer, rugby stalwart and community man Phil Wilson, father of Mayor Boult’s executive assistant, or businesswoman, local Kiwi Harvest founder, sustainability and community advocate Esther Whitehead. Read here for their views on airports, growth and how they might help our local democracy work better.

In summary, it is a choice between same old same old or the chance to move our council towards a more democratic, representative and thinking model. This link also says what to do if you haven’t received your voting papers, who is eligible to vote and how to get on the special roll if you aren’t registered. You need to get your papers into council by noon on June 11.

In case the above was too subtle, please vote for Esther if you want to Protect Queenstown! (PS Emily Rutherford has withdrawn her candidacy.  Please don’t waste your vote.)

High Court overturns Council’s illegal Wanaka Airport lease

Council has announced they won’t appeal the High Court’s judgement that their 100-year lease of Wanaka Airport to QAC was illegal because of inadequate consultation and improper process.  Here is a news item on the judgement and here is  Cr Niamh Shaw’s post showing some of the reasoning behind it.

We don’t know what the impacts of this will be for council’s and QAC’s much vaunted “dual airport strategy,” which relies on development of Wanaka Airport to absorb the excess millions of passengers that ZQN’s runway can never be lengthened enough for. It is highly unlikely it will be the end of QAC’s and council’s push in this direction. 

But at least council leadership and the executive team have decided not to waste even more hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars trying to justify their illegal and poor process to push purposes contrary to clearly stated community wishes.

Council’s 10-year plan

Minimal mention of airports or climate change mitigation in this supposedly strategic document, beyond that council “expects” QAC to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Note that this is ground operations only – it does not include flights. Really?  Our councillors don’t expect QAC to be capable of reaching this non-stretch target for another 29 years? Wow. Christchurch International Airport is already just 10% short of ground ops carbon neutrality.  Maybe we should get them to run our airports as well as Tarras :-)?

Draft spatial plan

This tripartite plan – with central government (NZTA and MBIE), Kai Tahu and QLDC at the table – will guide long-term infrastructural investment by all three entities throughout Queenstown Lakes District for the next 30 years.

The draft plan has two basic assumptions – continued growth of both airports in situ, and continued visitor/population growth at pre-Covid levels.

Here is our written submission, pointing out that these assumptions ignore community well-being (council’s mandated responsibility) and strong feedback across multiple consultation documents, along with other fundamental flaws.

Here is our five minutes’ input to the joint hearing.

We and others, including Kelvin Peninsula Community Association and FlightPlan2050, also pointed out that the purposeful omission of even considering alternative ZQN land uses in the face of the Tarras International Airport proposal, due to paradigms set by Council’s current political and executive leadership, undermines the document’s vital purpose of planning for the district’s best potential future.

Colin Keel resigns

After five turbulent years, the day after the PM announced the Australian travel bubble, QAC CEO and air noise expansion plan architect Colin Keel resigned in early April.  There weren’t many times we agreed with Colin – so we were thrilled to be able to use the above quote as part of our draft spatial plan submission. Well done, Colin, you nailed it.

Covid 19 and climate change mitigation policy impacts on aviation?

These two issues remain front of mind for many people across the world, with much media coverage and discussion of the inevitable long-term impacts on global aviation and tourism. Even Air New Zealand’s chief environmental advisor came out supporting price hikes to curb “thoughtless, heedless tourism” and said the idea of returning to pre-Covid levels of international tourism is wholly inappropriate.

Both Climate Change Commissioner Rod Carr and Parliament Commissioner of the Environment Simon Upton published independent reports highlighting the negative impacts of pre-Covid levels of tourism and aviation and calling for urgent action on climate change and environmental degradation.

But did our councillors hear?

Apparently not! Despite some fine words from Deputy Mayor Calum MacLeod in a social media post, only Crs Niamh Shaw, Niki Gladding and Quentin Smith stuck to their election hustings promises and voted against allowing Air Noise Boundary (ANB) expansion in their statement of expectation and statement of intent (SOI) votes.

It is this SOI process through which both QAC and QLDC lawyers told the High Court judge last November, when fighting for the legitimacy of their Wanaka Airport lease, that council had “total control” of QAC. You might remember all but Mayor Boult (and Arrowtown’s Cr Heath Copland) promised to oppose ANB expansion when asking us to vote for them. 

In less than two years, in an incredibly inefficient, opaque and undemocratic process, the majority of councillors have voted four times for inadequate SOIs that do not stipulate QAC must operate within its ANBs.

Here’s what they said when they had the very real chance to put their election rhetoric into action late last year and again in late January, and instead chose not to. Good to keep in mind if they seek re-election next year.

Then of course, there’s Tarras International Airport…

As we spluttered into our coffee at the irony of Mr Boult’s environmental ire, ButtScuttle kindly encapsulated the inherent contradictions for us.

This will no doubt be an ongoing issue for our district. The existence and/or growth of the three proposed or actual international airports, within 50 km of each other, is opposed by all three host communities.  Driven by competing local authorities and nominally council-controlled trading organisation (CCTO) airport companies, this complex and uncoordinated infrastructural interplay raises huge issues of democracy, councillor capacity and control, over-tourism, climate change mitigation and the best use of our country’s land resource.

The issues are complex and will no doubt continue to be debated as Christchurch International Airport Ltd (which Mr Boult used to be CEO of) continues with its plans, first announced late last July.  Hyperbole will also no doubt continue – like the claim that 10,000 people would be impacted on by fumes, noise and lights should Tarras International Airport get the go-ahead.  Definitely worth checking the graphic in our post showing the relative impacts of 12 km perimeter circles around Tarras, Wanaka and Queenstown airports. 

In terms of complexity and importance of the decisions to be made, this debate should be held at NZ Inc level – not decided by competing councils based on their sometimes conflicted interests, siloed and narrow thinking, paltry ‘our patch’ perspective and inadequate information.

That pretty much catches us up. Phew

Please make sure you vote in time to make it count so we can start the change we need in how our council operates – transparently, without conflicts of interest, with enquiring minds and community wellbeing and feedback at its core.

Here’s hoping that maybe this year’s QAC statement of intent might finally reflect the big fat loud NO our community has repeatedly said to more noise at Queenstown Airport. Council’s forecast is that growth will return to pre-Covid levels within five years, so all those multiple downstream ramifications of excessive airport noise that we have all campaigned against will still happen, just five years later.  We should see the next SOI before council in late June.

It would be great if you could please forward this to others who might not yet know about We Love Wakatipu Inc and our Protect Queenstown campaign to make sure Council and QAC do listen to our community and stop ANB expansion. As you know, it costs nothing and takes less than a minute to join.  Growing our membership helps give us strength and makes sure more of our community is informed. Our time is consumed with research, lobbying and communication, so your support in letting people know about our work (voluntary) and purpose would be much appreciated:-)! If every WLW Inc member forwarded this to 10 others who all joined up, that would be great. And please follow us on Facebook to keep up more regularly with the relevant issues and events that will help us all Protect Queenstown.  Because it’s precious.

Ngā mihi nui,

Cath Gilmour, We Love Wakatipu Inc chair

Stuff, 26 Dec 2020

A bit delayed putting this up – useful backgrounder for Christchurch International Airport Ltd’s proposal.

Link to article

FlightPlan2050 submission on the draft Spatial Plan, April 2021

A credible alternative to Queenstown Airport is being actively pursued, with decisions likely in the next five to seven years – but the draft Spatial Plan ignores both the opportunities and risks of the proposed Tarras International Airport.

Removal of ZQN would create a blank canvas on which to design one of the world’s most liveable alpine villages, a carless centre with the necessary substance and character to provide a sustainable, low emissions and prosperous economic future for our district, FlightPlan2050 says. Read on …