20 Feb 2021

Group objecting to airport expansion in Wānaka and Tarras wants government to step in

3:18 pm on 20 February 2021

A group of people opposed to the airport being expanded in Wānaka and one being built in nearby Tarras have written to the Prime Minister requesting the government step in.

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Photo: Queenstown Airport

Last year Christchurch Airport shocked the small rural Central Otago settlement of Tarras by announcing it had bought up $45 million of farmland in the area in the hope of building a jet-capable runway.

The Queenstown Airport Corporation is also looking at expanding the airport at Wānaka.

The Wānaka Stakeholders Group which opposes the move has written to the prime minister and other stakeholders expressing their concern.

Chairman Michael Ross said the local community feels like they are not being listened to.

"We've even taken the issue to the High Court last year and we should hear the outcome of that any day now but in the meantime plans have continued.

"The organisations that own these businesses are both council and government and all of them have declared climate emergencies," Ross said.

The group wants the government to step up.

"These are no longer purely local issues, decisions to build carbon-intensive infrastructure, which in turn enables an increase in carbon intensive jet aviation, is nothing short of madness in the current environment.

"New Zealand, like other nations, needs to take immediate and urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite plenty of clever PR and greenwashing, airport companies are not in the business of reducing carbon emissions."

Ross said a survey the Wānaka Stakeholders Group conducted last month of over 1200 people showed 87 percent were worried about the environmental impacts the airports would have.

"Bold leadership will be required from the government to ensure that sound decisions are made around airport development, national infrastructure and controls on inbound tourism," he said.

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