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 subsidies ratepayers are paying to Singapore Airlines for their route, these latest developments seriously undermine Wellington Airport’s claims that demand for long-haul routes is high.
The Guardians along with Hue tē Taka and the Surfbreak Protection Society are working hard to prepare our case for the Environment Court Hearings, expected to start in June.
We were surprised to see Infratil, the airport’s majority owner, blame the November earthquake for a delay to hearings in the media. The June timetable for the hearing start, or possibly an early July start, is entirely a function of the need to enable a fair process and complete thenecessary steps rather than because of the earthquakes and the availability of a venue. It is disappointing to see Infratil and WIAL continuing to attempt to subvert this process, although their lawyer did suggest it may have been a miscommunication of some sort.
Process Advisors’ Meeting
On 25 January we attended the Process Advisors’ meeting together with a number of our submitters who had filed to present in Court – or, in technical terms, had chosen to become Section 274 parties. There were around 60 people in attendance and the majority seemed to oppose the runway extension. This was a great opportunity for us all to better understand theEnvironment Court process and make sure we are fully prepared.
Last week (9 February) there was a Pre-Hearing Conference for all Section 274 parties to learn valuable information there about the progress of the case – and in particular the likely case timetable.
The Court will issue a formal minute in due course to record its directions in respect of a timetable. A key step is likely to be the requirement for all parties who have not yet advised theCourt as to the witnesses they might call, to do so by 6 March 2017.
We will be providing active support to all opposing Section 274 parties who would like it as theEnvironment Court case approaches, so please get in touch if you have questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far – your generosity has been awe-inspiring. It is unfortunate that the community has to dip into their own pockets to fight this proposal while the City Council offers $3m of ratepayers money to the Airport and Infratil.
We will not be defeated by the size of the Airport’s budget, so we continue to actively fundraise to pay for the lawyers and expert witnesses who are helping us prepare our case for theEnvironment Court, and who will appear in court on our behalf.
Further donations are very welcome and very necessary. You can donate:
- Electronically to Guardians of the Bays, Kiwibank, 38 9017 0217717 00 (please send email advice to email@example.com )
- By cheque, posted to R Randerson, Guardians of the Bays, 13 Matai Rd, Hataitai, Wellington 6021
- Debit/Credit card via our Givealittle campaign [please note: 5% of your payment will be taken as a fee by Givealittle]
We still have some gorgeous calendars with stunning south coast images. Free to donors but a koha always welcome. Please email Richard on firstname.lastname@example.org