Downing trees for Marlborough airport carparks 'epic fail in fight against climate change'

4:37 pm on 8 March 2023
Marlborough Airport

Marlborough Airport Photo: Supplied/Marlborough Environment Centre

Trees have been chopped down at Marlborough Airport to make way for hundreds more carpark spaces - in a move the local environment centre says ignores the reality of climate change.

A number of trees visible from State Highway 6 were cut down last week to make way for 300 car parks.

Marlborough Environment Centre spokesperson Jan Johns said chopping down established trees was short-sighted and an "epic fail in the fight against climate change".

More carparks meant more cars and carbon emissions at the expense of established trees and grassed areas that could soak up downpours, Johns said.

"This is in a community that has already experienced the effects of climate change with serious flooding, slips and road damage in the Marlborough Sounds in 2021 and 2022 and millions of dollars spent in repairs."

Johns said there needed to be consideration of alternatives like improved public transport, shared electric taxi services, choosing less carparks or a different site.

But Marlborough Airport chief executive Dean Heiford said car-parking had long been an issue at the airport, and a project to increase the number of parking spaces was launched before the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the increase in the number of people flying in and out of Marlborough.

"We currently have 135 car parks plus our overflow car park, which is just a grassed area that's fenced ... and [the development] will add another 300 car parks to that and in the future, we will look at rearranging the front of the terminal and revising the car parts closer to the terminal to make them easier to access."

The $3 million development was recently granted resource consent and construction was now underway.

The land is owned by the Kurahaupō iwi group and is on a long-term lease to the airport.

Heiford said there was no way for the site to be developed and the existing trees retained - with some also posing safety issues.

"We can't afford to have large trees going up into the glide path and also they tend to be roosting areas for birds and birds and aircraft don't mix well," he said.

"No-one likes to remove trees, but people parking cars under trees, limbs falling, all those sorts of situations were an issue as well."

Heiford said a large gum tree on the boundary with the state highway also needed to be removed at some stage so had been incorporated into the project.

There had been some correspondence with landscape and environmental groups about why the the trees removal was necessary, both for the development and also for the safety of the airport, he said.

A landscaping plan would replace the old trees with other plants and greenery.