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 seeing the majority of mayoral candidates ignoring the red flags and maintaining that the return on a $90 million investment in the runway extension will be beneficial for the city.

“This report shows businesses don’t feel the need for it; 525 of 776 public submissions opposed the Airport’s resource consent application last month and Infratil, the Airport’s majority shareholder, isn’t prepared to put forward funds in line with its shareholding. These are warning signs that the business case will not be robust and they are being ignored.”

The report also shows the costs of being a Wellington business are forcing some companies to consider relocating or closing down.

“Wellington businesses already pay 46 percent of rates despite only occupying 21 percent of rentable property.[1] A number of the mayoral candidates are building their campaigns on the promises of costly white-elephant projects, like the runway extension, and not properly addressing the follow-on impact on rates for businesses and residents.”

City Council’s “on track” spin on survey

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