Queenstown Airport may double number of flights

Queenstown locals are up in arms over the proposal to double the number of flights to and from the town's airport.

The number of flights in and out of Queenstown each year may have to expand from 21,000 to 41,600 to cope with the expected 2.5 million passengers that will be travelling to and from the resort by 2045.

But locals, like prominent businessman Eion Edgar, say the noise created by the airport was already impacting the quality of life for nearby residents.

"I'm not alone," Mr Edgar said.

"I haven't struck one person that disagrees with the view that enough's enough.

"If you have too many more people, your experience - whether it's on a skifield, downtown, whatever - is unpleasant. So ... it's just being practical."

Former Queenstown councillor Kirsty Sharpe said the noise of planes taking off and landing already made life unpleasant from the deck of her Kelvin Heights home.

"The whole community's been caught almost with its pants down - how do we cope with this growth?" she said.

"We feel we've got enough traffic going on at the airport right now and we don't want to see it more than doubled in the future."

The town was already struggling to cope with the number of visitors, she said.

But her opinion was in contrast to that of Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd.

"I'm in the camp of saying we should aspire to have sustainable future growth," he said.

But he said there was no right number of flights and that was why the airport was having the conversation with locals.

"I think we all, as a community, need to take a deep breath," Mr Budd said.

"And actually have the conversation. What is it that we want and what does sustainable growth look like?"

Queenstown Airport chief executive Colin Keel said the airport was attempting that and was simply informing the public about what was forecast to arrive in the town in future.

The outcome of consultation was not a foregone conclusion.

"That's why this is very much a proposal because it needs to be shaped and this is the first step amongst many I would suspect before we get to some type of answer," Mr Keel said.

The proposal presented the airport's best solution to impending growth and was not about ramping up operations, he said.

"What I would ask people to think about ... is 30 years out and what would be acceptable in 30 years. What is the kind of environment we want as residents and we want for our visitors? And that's really the kind of conversation we're prompting," he said.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said it was an important conversation and he was open-minded about the outcome and the future of the airport and town.

Consultation on the plan closes on 20 August.

Flight lands at Queenstown Airport. Source: 1 NEWS

Taranaki bypass could be devastating to native bat population, DOC says

A proposed $200m bypass road over Taranaki's Mount Messenger could devastate the local population of long-tail bats, DOC warns.

Hearings about the bypass have been taking place since the beginning of the month, The Taranaki Daily News reports, and DOC on Wednesday talked about potential ecological effects.

Dr Colin O'Donnell presented evidence that the bats in the area are already at risk and that construction could severely harm their populations.

"The effects of the project are potentially catastrophic to long tail bats in particular the felling on breeding trees during road construction may lead to the extinction of the Mt Messenger bat population," he said.

Bats are present at 94 per cent of the surveyed locations within the proposed bypass area, Dr O'Donnell said.

"Breeding roost trees are rare with specialised features that tend to be 100 years old and are almost irreplaceable except over very long time frames.

"Adverse affects will occur when trees are destroyed even if the bats are not in them at the time of felling.

"Bats don't just change roost on a whim they follow a traditional routine, that is so strict they often use the same tree, on the same day, each year."

A report by Wildland Consultants Ltd in May held showed there are concerns around whether NZTA can sufficiently offset the ecological effects of the road.

Of the 1190 public submissions received about the bypass, only 20 opposed it.

There are concerns the SH3 bypass at Mt Messenger could impact the population of long-tail bats in the area.
There are concerns the SH3 bypass at Mt Messenger could impact the population of long-tail bats in the area. Source: NZTA/DOC


Ngāpuhi hapū may head to tribunal if Andrew Little insists on single settlement for iwi

Ngāpuhi hapū will head back to the Waitangi Tribunal if Andrew Little insists on a single settlement for the whole iwi, a hapū leader says.

The Treaty Negotiations Minister is heading north this weekend to report progress in talks over Ngāpuhi's long-running mandate dispute.

Pita Tipene, who co-chairs the hapū alliance Te Kotahitanga said Mr Little seemed hell-bent on a single settlement despite the tribunal's 2015 finding that it undermined hapū rangatiratanga.

Legal action was a last resort but Mr Little was leaving hapū with little choice, Mr Tipene said.

"The Waitangi Tribunal made some really clear recommendations in 2015 and they cannot be ignored."

Mr Tipene is one of four Ngāpuhi leaders who have been meeting with Mr Little since March to resolve the row over who represents the hapū, and who should negotiate a settlement.

He and Hokianga spokesman Rudy Taylor have spoken for the hapū alliance Te Kotahitanga, whose concerns over the mandate were upheld by the tribunal.

Tuhoronuku, the board whose mandate was accepted by the former National government, has been represented at the talks by its chair Hone Sadler and the rūnanga chair Raniera Sonny Tau.

Tuhoronuku favours keeping Ngāpuhi's commercial redress in one package to maximise the iwi's economic power, while the hapū alliance wants six settlements based on natural groupings in the north.

Mr Tipene said the Government's insistence on one settlement was driven by political expedience.

"They just want it quick and dirty; they don't really care about the people up here and they are prepared to ride roughshod over them again, and the people aren't going to accept it," he said.

Mr Little has said he was not prepared to let "one voice" hold up the Ngāpuhi settlement.

But Mr Tipene said that was disingenuous.

"The minister knows that mine is just one of a whole lot of voices and many people who disapprove of the path this is taking," he said.

Turnout at Mr Little's hui in the north this weekend could be low because the minister had given people only a few days' notice, Mr Tipene said.

Mr Little said the law failed to act as an effective deterrent.
Source: 1 NEWS