CIAL’s Michael Singleton addresses the local community on the company’s Tarras airport proposal. Image: TT
A complete plan for the proposed Tarras airport could be up to three years away, says Christchurch International Airport Limited.
CIAL gave its second public update on the proposal to the Tarras community this week and committed to providing more information in June 2021 on the potential runway alignment, flight path and noise output. The company last year bought 750 hectares of land near Tarras for $45m to start work on a new Central Otago airport.
Michael Singleton, CIAL’s director of the project, said on Wednesday evening that as the project got closer to seeking approvals, possibly starting in 2024, a complete plan for the airport would come together.
“That is the sort of plan you will get as you move closer to those approval dates and there will be a range of different elements that go into that and they’re all interconnected,” Singleton said.
“If you’re asking me, will [you] see in June a rollout plan? – no, you won’t. You’ll start to see things like, what might the airspace look like, what might the runway piece look like, so you’ll start to build up pieces like that.
“As that builds closer to where you get into an approval process, you’ll start to see the entire piece.”
Singleton also said he doubted that Wanaka Airport could operate alongside a Tarras airport.
“It seems a really unlikely scenario. Nothing’s impossible but it would be highly improbable because you’ve got some really simple things… that includes how your airspace is managed because you have approvals for your airspace – we don’t write our own airspace, you have to have an approval for that. You’ve got a natural conflict in that.”
Singleton added that he thought it was unclear what operator Queenstown Airport Corporation’s longterm plan was for Wanaka Airport, which is owned by Queenstown Lakes District Council, and that CIAL was engaged in a “competition of ideas here”.
“There’s also a piece in that, that is in essence, airlines are a really big determinant in that and will have a really big lead in that.”
Tarras locals expressed concerns over the proposal’s effect on the environment, the associated infrastructure needs such as roading, the lighting and noise output and the effect on the lifestyles of those living nearby.
Sustainable Tarras spokesman Chris Goddard said that he and other locals arrived at Wednesday’s update hoping to have some of their worries about the project allayed.
“In fact, many appeared more concerned than they were before,” Goddard said.
“There are plenty of unanswered questions. The project has been going for eight months – the [$45m land acquisiton] announcement was eight months ago. They have probably had between $1m and $3m additional salaries on top of the $45m.”
He said CIAL had, to date, provided little concrete information for the community about its proposal.
“For a project to be run like that it’s really curious that they have no facts and we’re still in an exploration stage. If I was one of the Christchurch ratepayers or a taxpayer, because the New Zealand government is a 25% owner [of CIAL], I would be very worried about where all these salaries and all this hard work is going.”
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