BLOG: MORE AND MORE WELLINGTONIANS ARE BECOMING CONCERNED ABOUT THE PROPOSED AIRPORT EXTENSION

Opposition to the proposed runway extension is growing if attendance at the recent Guardians of the Bays information evening is anything to go by. A diverse range of groups, from business, community, recreational and environmental organisations are asking questions to peel away the public relations spin around the ill-conceived, expensive airport extension proposal. Groups as diverse as Forest & Bird; various Residents’ Associations; Wellington businesses; Save the Basin; the Surfbreak Protection Society; Hue te Taka Society; OraTaiao: The NZ Climate & Health Council; the Wellington Underwater Club; 350.org and the Green Party, to name a few, were represented at last week’s meeting. It quickly became clear that everyone present was deeply concerned at the spin being put out by the airport company, and the potential cost it will have to ratepayers and taxpayers, and of course to the beautiful Wellington south coast. The meeting was MCed by Bishop Richard Randerson, who has national standing for his work in faith-based and place-based communities. He made it clear that an airport extension does not make Wellington more progressive, particularly when the ratepayers and taxpayers are being asked to subsidise one of New Zealand’s wealthiest companies. Dr Sea Rotmann, co-Chair of the Guardians Read More …

OUR SUBMISSION TO THE WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL’S ANNUAL PLAN

We have submitted the following to the WCC’s Annual Plan – as they were asking for ‘good ideas’ from the community of how to spend our money better. It may be largely lip-service, seeing the Council has gotten a lot of flak recently over their public ‘consultation’ (or lack thereof) processes, but we felt it was important to continue to engage with the Council and to use this democratic process. Dr Sea Rotmann, our Co-Chair spoke to the submission and Clive Anstey had also sent it round to every Councillor with a cover letter beforehand. Councillor Andy Foster, to his credit, replied with an immediate and thoughtful response, outlining the many caveats that would still need to be met before the Council would decide to spend the $90m that were already earmarked for this proposal in the Long Term Plan. He also spoke to Dr Rotmann and Mr Anstey during the break, which may have been a bit of a mistake: He told them that his mind was still completely open (good!) but that he wasn’t sure that emotions (on both sides) weren’t getting in the way of the facts (our main emotion is frustration that the airport’s ‘facts’ are Read More …

NEWS: Wellington airport’s safety disputed in runway extension case

Safety at Wellington airport is in dispute with the director of Civil Aviation saying it is safe and the pilots’ union saying the risk of an overrun or undershoot is significant. The airport company wants to extend the length of the runway and Civil Aviation director Graeme Harris has accepted, for now at least, that a longer runway would not mean longer safety zones. The issue has erupted in the midst of a pilots’ claim that Harris has mistaken the way he should interpret the law about the length of the safety zones. Harris says Wellington airport is safe with 90m safety zones and, based on current information, 90m would be acceptable on a longer runway also. The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association, representing 1600 pilots and 400 air traffic controllers, said the law required 240m zones at each end of a runway like Wellington, if practicable. The airport company said that could cost more than $280 million. Much of a hearing at the High Court in Wellington centred on the meaning of “practicable” and the factors relevant to deciding what was practicable. The pilots’ lawyer, Hugh Rennie, QC, said it was the pilots and air traffic controllers who Read More …

NEWS: Pilots challenge safety zones for Wellington Airport’s proposed runway extension

The cost of Wellington Airport’s $300 million runway extension will double if the larger safety zones that pilots want are included in the design, a judge has been told. At the High Court in Wellington on Monday, the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association – the union that represents pilots – argued the proposed extension should include a 240 metre runway end safety area (RESA) at both ends. Wellington Airport’s existing 90 metre safety zones have been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. A lawyer for the authority told the court yesterday that reclaiming enough land to make them 240m would add another $300m on to the cost of the proposed extension. But pilots’ association lawyer Hugh RennieQC said that should be done “if practicable” to ensure Wellington Airport complied with the law. An alternative would be to have a shorter safety buffer with an “arresting surface” at each end where concrete slabs collapse under the weight of aircraft and slow them quicker than a smooth surface. Wellington Airport is expected to apply for resource consent in December to extend its runway south by 300 metres at a cost of about $300m. Up to $150m of that is expected to be shouldered Read More …

NEWS: Pilots take runway battle to High Court

A plane is 29 times more likely to overshoot the runway at Wellington Airport than at Auckland, the High Court in Wellington has been told. A plane lands at Wellington Airport earlier in 2015. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson The New Zealand Airline Pilots’ Association has gone to court asking for long safety margins at the end of the runway if the Wellington Airport company goes ahead with plans to extend it 300m into Cook Strait to the south so it can accommodate long haul passenger planes from Asia. The proposal still needs to be approved. The scheme will cost $300 million and there are fears adding a 240m safety margin would be uneconomic. But pilots’ counsel Hugh Rennie, QC, rejected those arguments. “The moment you start saying safety will be whatever you can justify on a cost benefit analysis, there are many, many examples,” Mr Rennie said. “You might not put signs on bridges because no one ever goes off the edge of them, you might go for cheaper buildings. The objective across the whole thing is the safety objective.” Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson No aircraft had overrun Wellington runway since the 1960s but Mr Rennie said if Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE: Runway extension undermined by economic and sea level rise factors

News that Wellington Airport (WIAL) will shortly release a business case on the proposed airport runway extension is to be welcomed as a step to greater transparency. But how much transparency will it actually deliver? The tired mantra of ‘300 metres for $300 million’ has been around for a long time now, while plans have shifted and costs have doubtless risen, says Richard Randerson, co-chair of Guardians of the Bays. And the environmental viability of airport operations is seriously undermined by news this week from Victoria University researcher Dr Nick Golledge that melting ice from Antarctica is likely to add another 40cm to sea level rise predictions, on top of the roughly one metre previously expected to inundate Wellington’s coastal suburbs by 2100. Already, storm surges are washing away roading around the south coast, with both Cobham Drive and Moa Point access roads underwater in recent years. Economically, Wellingtonians will be looking for more robust costings and benefits than have so far been available. Speculation about regional profits of $640 million by 2060 lack credibility. Forecasting 45 years ahead is no more than fantasy, and the amount cited scarcely breath-taking. When assessing costs, a gold standard is set by Treasury’s Read More …