NEWS: Dave Armstrong: Ahem, don’t mention the … runway extension

Original article here. OPINION:  Last week, the umpteenth repeat of the famous Fawlty Towers ”Germans” episode was playing on my TV. Despite having seen it countless times, I had to stop and watch a hilariously concussed, goose-stepping John Cleese say “don’t mention the war” in front of tearful Germans. This reminded me of our present Wellington City Council, where the rule seems to be “don’t mention the airport runway extension”. The issue was a major one last term. Never mind that extending the runway would greatly increase greenhouse emissions, our Green mayor got right behind it. And despite the airport extension arguably being corporate welfare, the Labour deputy mayor, and now our present mayor, strongly supported it, too. Council chief executive Kevin Lavery was also a big fan, naming the runway extension in early 2016 – along with the Film Museum and Convention Centre, which also seems to be in a state of limbo – as an area in which he wanted to make “real progress”. Lavery and mayor Justin Lester were also involved in brokering the “Capital Express” route deal, which saw Singapore Airlines fly from Singapore to Canberra to Wellington, and receive a nice council subsidy in the process. Surely if Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE: Community Groups welcome Wellington Airport Delay at Environment Court

March 21, 2017 Residents and ratepayers group the Guardians of the Bays has welcomed the news that Wellington Airport will postpone the progression of its runway extension resource consent in the Environment Court. In advance of a pre-hearing conference on Thursday, the Airport has announced that it will withdraw its resource consent application while it appeals to the Supreme Court on the Court of Appeal ruling that the Civil Aviation Authority must reconsider its decision on the length of the proposed runway safety area. Guardians of the Bays’ Co-Chair Richard Randerson said the decision showed that Wellington Airport’s application was deficient in not considering possible contingencies such as the Court of Appeal decision. Wellington Airport has said in its own memo to the court that it will potentially need to rescope the application or withdraw it completely, if its appeal to the Supreme Court is unsuccessful. The Pilots Association case on the safety of the extension was before the courts well before Wellington Airport lodged its application to the Environment Court. Yet it still went ahead and used nearly $3 million of ratepayer funding to scope a proposal which now looks like it will be redundant. First and foremost, any Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE GotB: Airport Extension proposal delayed yet again – raising doubts about viability

For immediate release 6 March 2017 Residents’ and ratepayers’ group the Guardians of the Bays have today welcomed news that Wellington International Airport has requested an interim adjournment of proceedings from the Environment Court. The request from the Airport comes in response to the Court of Appeal ruling that the Civil Aviation Authority must reconsider its decision on the length of the proposed runway safety area. Guardians of the Bays’ Co-Chair Richard Randerson said the request showed that WIAL has not considered all the issues in enough depth. “We are pleased that the Airport is reconsidering its position. The runway extension proposal continues to face hurdles because it has not been well considered or evaluated. This serious concern around safety is just one of many examples where the numbers don’t stack up. There is already evidence that the proposal is likely to cost more than the $350m originally suggested. An extension to the runway safety area would push costs well over the half a billion dollars it is currently expected to reach and would put the project well outside the parameters of the current Environment Court application.” Co-Chair Dr. Sea Rotmann said the burden to ratepayers and taxpayers of the Read More …

February Newsletter

The Guardians have been straight back into it in the New Year in preparation for the Environment Court process. The impact of the Kaikoura earthquake has made it even more vital that we consider thepriorities for precious public funds. There are serious infrastructure projects, such as water storage, that must take priority. It was heartening to see Mayor Justin Lester note in the Dominion Post, on 1 February that therunway extension “is not likely to gain traction in the next financial year”. However, he continues to hold it out as an option and this is disappointing given the problems with the Airport’s plans and community and business opposition to it. We are meeting with the Mayor this month to discuss his intentions for the runway and how theCouncil will be reassessing its investments to make sure we see sustainable progress for thecity. We are seeing further evidence of the weak demand for long-haul flights out of Wellington as Jetstar announced it would be cancelling its Wellington-Melbourne route, declaring it uneconomic. We have also seen statistics on the Wellington-Canberra-Singapore route showing that passengers flying from Wellington to Canberra filled less than 25% of the plane’s capacity. On top of the continued Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE: RATEPAYERS GROUP WELCOME MAYOR’S REVIEW OF CITY’S SPENDING

Residents and ratepayers group Guardians of the Bays has welcomed indications from Wellington Mayor Justin Lester that the proposed $300+ million Wellington Airport runway extension is not a priority for the City Council’s 2017-18 spending. Guardians of the Bays Co-Chair Dr Sea Rotmann said the group was pleased to see Lester making moves to better prioritise the spending of ratepayers’ money. “The fact that the Mayor has commissioned a review and wants to cut spending by $8 million is good news for Wellington ratepayers, but at the same time there are a lot of projects demanding Council support and we still need a firm list of priorities.

SCOOP – Wellington Airport workers kept “in the dark”

Originally posted on Scoop Press Release – Public Service Association Wellington Airport managers must front up to serious questions over its response to Monday mornings earthquake – and how it communicated with other agencies, the PSA says.Wellington Airport workers kept “in the dark” during quake aftermath Wellington Airport managers must front up to serious questions over its response to Monday morning’s earthquake – and how it communicated with other agencies, the PSA says. PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says around a dozen staff from the Ministry of Primary Industries plus additional Customs and other workers were at the airport when the quake hit. “We have spoken to our members at Wellington airport and they are gravely concerned at what happened on Monday,” Mr Barclay says. “Our members have told us they are not well briefed on emergency procedures or evacuation plans. “This is a serious concern, especially considering Wellington Airport sits just 2 kilometres from a fault line.” Virgin’s flight VA108 from Brisbane landed 20 minutes after the first quake and MPI and Customs staff processed passengers and cargo with little information about their own safety. Mr Barclay says MPI staff stayed on duty after the tsunami warning was issued, Read More …

Scoop – Surfers opposing runway extension, defending Lyall Bay

Originally published on Scoop News from WPW The Surfbreak Protection Society, New Zealand’s national surfers’ environmental organisation, is opposing Wellington Airport’s application for resource consent to extend its runway because of the impact it will have on surfing and the surfing environment on Wellington’s South Coast. Michael Gunson of the SPS says community groups, local businesses and individuals need to get informed about the proposed extension and what it could mean to their quality of life. “This project will unfortunately not return the benefits that the Airport and the City Council are promoting. Given the events of the last week, it is even more important that a project of this size, which is heavily reliant on public funding to get it across the line, is put under proper scrutiny. Something that has not happened yet. “In addition to the worrying economic figures that came out of the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s report last month, saying that the estimated cost of the extension would be $428m but likely to rise to almost $500m, compared to the Airport’s estimation of $300m, SPS are focusing their concerns on the impacts to the surfing at Lyall Bay. “Both the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Read More …

Scoop – Moa Point residents’ group to oppose runway extension – “so many concerns”

Originally published on Scoop. News from Hue tē Taka Hue tē Taka Incorporated Society which represents the most directly and severely affected residents from Moa Point, who are Wellington Airport’s neighbours, has today announced it will be opposing the Airport’s application for resource consent to extend the runway in the Environment Court next year. Karl Weber of Hue tē Taka said that they are urging other community groups, local businesses and individuals to do the same. “We have filed our form under section 274 stating that we would like to appear in the Environment Court and speak to the submission we made on the application in August. “Despite almost 70% of submissions made on the application being in opposition, the local community are not getting any support from local government. So, it is important that everyone who wants to appear in Court to oppose the application also files an s274 form before the deadline on Friday. “Sadly it falls to the community to put pressure on the Airport over the many concerns we have about the proposed runway extension. We hope that many people feel they would like to follow us in putting our own resources into the Environment Court Read More …

Longer runway not priority for city businesses – council survey

Original article Wellington’s parking and transport are bigger challenges to Wellington businesses than lack of international capacity via Wellington International Airport, according to the Wellington City Council’s 2016 Survey of Wellington Businesses. Richard Randerson, co-chair of broad-based residents’ group Guardians of the Bays, says the survey is further evidence that Wellington Airport’s proposed runway extension is not the silver bullet Wellingtonians have been promised. “The Airport and the City Council have been promising ratepayers that long-haul flights into Wellington will create more business opportunities for local companies, but this survey shows that businesses are wise to the real issues – and accessibility within the city is a much bigger concern. “The survey also shows that over 90 percent of business do not feel disadvantaged by a lack of business opportunities or the size of the local market.” Mr Randerson added that the City Council had been quick to give the Airport Company $3million of ratepayer money last year to help scope its resource consent application even though their own 2014 research showed just 10 percent of local businesses thought more international flights into the capital would provide advantages. “We are now looking to the next generation Council and we are Read More …

Wellington runway extension plan ‘implausible at best’

Original article on scoop.co.nz By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 15 (BusinessDesk) – Wellington’s airport runway extension initiative fails on the grounds that lower North Island and South Island travellers are already flying to long-haul destinations through Auckland or Christchurch and the region is not a magnet for tourists, who are more likely to favour Auckland and Queenstown as an arrival point. That’s the conclusion of a study commissioned by the lobby group for international airlines, including Air New Zealand, lodged in opposition to Wellington International Airport’s application for a resource consent to lengthen the capital city’s runway by 350 metres. The new study, by Australian-based Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consultants for the Board of Airline Representatives in New Zealand, said the likelihood of airlines establishing new long-haul services to the capital is “extremely remote, implausible at best”. It contests the findings of a study by rival aviation industry consultants, InterVistas, which APAC said has over-estimated demand for long-haul services to and from Wellington, which it said has not benefitted from the boom in international tourism that has boosted arrivals, particularly to Auckland and Queenstown, in recent years. “Visitor demand growth from long-haul markets to Wellington has lagged not only the New Zealand Read More …