MEDIA RELEASE: No plan B leaves Wellington ratepayers exposed over airport extension proposal.

“Wellington City Council has no Plan B to protect Wellington’s ratepayers if the Wellington Airport Extension doesn’t deliver,” according to business, recreational, community and environmental groups who are calling for more rigour around the proposal. The Guardians of the Bays, a citizen-led umbrella organisation representing a growing number of groups of businesses and individuals who are concerned the runway extension will not deliver the benefits being promised by Wellington International Airport Limited and some City Councillors. Co-chairs Dr Sea Rotmann and Richard Randerson said the airport is being presented to the public as Wellington’s main economic growth option. “We are all keen on a progressive and successful Wellington. But the numbers being put up for this proposal simply don’t stack up. “The Council has promised $90 million of ratepayer money, on top of $3 million already handed over to the airport, for a runway extension that has no business case. The Airport has refused to put its numbers under the scrutiny of the Government’s own Better Business Case process, which is required for getting Central Government funding.” “Economically, the runway extension has the potential to lump Wellington ratepayers with a wasteful and unnecessary White Elephant requiring significant ratepayer subsidies and Read More …

NEWS Dom Post: Wellington Airport has no ‘Plan B’ if $300m runway extension fails to fly

By Michael Forbes  Wellington Airport says it has no “Plan B” in place if its proposed runway extension fails to get off the ground. Airport representatives have told Wellington city councillors they do not expect the $300 million project to have any problems getting resource consent. But if it doesn’t fly, there are no contingency plans. “You either build the runway extension or you don’t, airport chief executive Steve Sanderson said on Tuesday. The project’s main opposition group, Guardians of the Bays, has revealed it already has a dozen technical experts lined up to testify against the project in the Environment Court. It is preparing a community fightback similar to the movement that killed off the Basin Reserve flyover in 2014, and its members predict the airport’s “arrogance” will come back to bite it. The airport wants to extend its runway south by 354 metres to allow for direct long-haul flights to Asia, and possibly the United States. It expects the project will be publicly notified by the Environment Court at the end of the week, with a resource consent hearing likely in February 2017. Sanderson told councillors to expect plenty of “shooting down” of the project by various groups over the coming months, Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE GUARDIANS OF THE BAYS: Wellington Regional Council Questions Proposed Airport Extension Application

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) is putting the proposed Wellington Airport Extension under much needed scrutiny, according to concerned business, community and recreational groups. GWRC has today revealed it is putting Wellington Airport International Ltd’s resource consent application ‘on hold’ while it seeks further information on more than 46 issues of concern, including economic impacts, traffic issues and effects on recreation, endangered species, the ability to surf in Lyall Bay and the construction process. Dr Sea Rotmann, co-chair of the Guardians of the Bay, an umbrella group working with residents’ associations, businesses and recreational organisations, said robust scrutiny of WIAL’s public relations was well overdue. GWRC have made two separate requests for information and has also informed WIAL that it needs at least one additional consent, for stormwater discharge. “Our City Councillors and most mayoral candidates have failed to apply any level of real scrutiny. It is pleasing to see that the Regional Council is taking the robust approach that we should have seen all along,” Dr Rotmann said. “Wellington City Councillors and most mayoral candidates have been too quick to just accept a “trust me” approach from a private company to what will be a significant ratepayer investment. We Read More …

BLOG Guardians of the Bays: You can’t have a Low Carbon Capital AND a runway extension

Our Co-Chair, Dr Sea Rotmann, made an impassioned plea to the City Councillors during consultation on the WCC Low Carbon Capital Plan the other day: “Please start taking this seriously, climate change is a reality and it is hitting us hard already. You cannot support an extension to the runway and claim that your efforts here are serious.” Sea talked a little bit about her background as Environmental Scientists for over 20 years and how she studied anthropogenic impacts on coral reefs for almost 10 years. “I have witnessed the bleaching event on the Great Barrier reef in 1998, and studied one in Papua New Guinea in 2001. They were nothing compared to the massive bleaching and die-off of coral reefs we are witnessing right now. I was lucky enough to have done my Honours research on the most beautiful place in Australia, Lizard Island. Now, 95% of its reefs, some of the most pristine on the planet, are bleached and less than 50% will recover. We are responsible for the die-off of species on which 1/3 of the marine environment depend on, which have lived for 450 million years, and yet 200 years of our rampant fossil fuel use Read More …

Guardians submission on the WCC Low Carbon Capital Plan

SUBMISSION BY THE GUARDIANS OF THE BAYS ON THE WCC LOW CARBON PLAN Dr Sea Rotmann, May 3, 2016 It is good to see vision for a Low Carbon capital, with planning that will increase cycle-ways, electric charging stations, higher density building, ongoing smart energy challenges and phasing out minimum parking requirement. We like the statement “acting to reduce emissions helps the city as a whole” on page 6. However, this unfortunately cannot be taken as a serious statement with the airport and aviation emissions only being mentioned once in the plan on page 10: “On the other hand, we have a major international airport within the city limits, so we are credited with the emissions of nearly all of the region’s domestic air travel. This creates multiple complex challenges – with less forestry we aren’t able to offset as much; and with aviation being a substantial contributor to our transport emissions, greenhouse gas reductions will be driven by the availability of international solutions for aviation such as biofuels or gains in aircraft efficiency.” Waiting for international solutions for aviation and not counting our international aviation emissions as part of the city’s emissions profile, as well as supporting the extension Read More …

NEWS Dom Post: Wellington residents call for big council salaries to be trimmed to keep rates down

 by Michael Forbes CAMERON BURNELL/ FAIRFAX NZ Wellington City councillors have spent the past two days hearing what members of the public think the capital’s rates should be spent on. If Wellington City Council needs a way to keep the rates down, it could always lighten the pay packets of almost 200 staff who earn more than $100,000. That was the rather blunt suggestion from the Mt Victoria Residents Association during public hearings on this year’s annual plan. The council has proposed an average rates increase of 3.8 per cent for 2016/17 but has stated its desire to get that down to at least 3.6 per cent before the rates are struck in June. ROSS GIBLIN/ FAIRFAX NZ Living wage advocates have congratulated the council for paying giving some of its staff a pay rise, but has urged it to do more. The forecast residential rates increase is 5.3 per cent before growth. Association spokeswoman Sue Watt said Mt Victoria residents were not happy with those projections, particularly when a record number of 192 council staff took home more than $100,000 in 2015. WIAL A proposal to extend Wellington Airport’s runway by 354 metres has been a hot topic during public hearings Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE: LOCAL RESIDENTS LAUNCH MYTH-BUSTERS ON PROPOSED WELLINGTON RUNWAY EXTENSION

Local residents against the proposed Wellington Airport runway extension want the project’s backers to come clean on the proposal so voters can have their say in this year’s Local Government Elections. The Guardians of the Bays, which includes South Coast residents and recreational users as well as concerned residents from across the city, have produced a myth-busting leaflet, taking aim at the misinformation being spread about the project by the owners of Wellington International Airport Ltd (WIAL), private company Infratil and Wellington City Council (WCC). The leaflet gives Wellingtonians a chance to ask questions of their local councillors and mayoral hopefuls as part of the 2016 Local Government Election Campaign. “Wellingtonians need to have the chance to decide on the proposed extension based on facts not propaganda and misinformation. We want to cut through the confusion so Wellingtonians get all the facts before we commit any more valuable ratepayers’ money to this fanciful proposal,” says Dr Sea Rotmann, adding that WIAL made $108 million in revenue last year but Wellington City Council (which owns one-third of WIAL on behalf of ratepayers) received less than $12 million in dividends. “Wellington’s ratepayers are being asked to pay $150 million towards the runway Read More …

WHY OH WHY ARE SO MANY MAYORAL CANDIDATES FOR THE RUNWAY EXTENSION?

We now have 5 candidates contesting the Mayoral election this year, and four of them are gung-ho supporters of the corporate hand-out to fossil fuel giant, Infratil. Why oh why does Infratil, which owns airports, energy companies, transport groups, property and hundreds of petrol stations with more than $2.5 billion in assets, still need handouts from the Wellington City Council? Why oh why are Justin Lester and Co promoting discredited numbers around this extension ad nauseum, yet refuse to insist on a proper business case by the airport? Why oh why did the Council hide the subsidies to attract Singapore Airlines to fly to Wellington (via Canberra), with Justin Lester trying to blame his leak on Helene Ritchie? Why oh why are they pushing for Wellington ratepayers to pay half of the cost of the runway extension, even though they will – at utmost, and only with unreal fantasy projections – only get a third of the economic gains? Why or why are they paying for half when they only own a third of the shares yet get just over 10% of the dividends? Why oh why are they calling critics of the airport extension to be “Anti-Wellington” and “Anti-Competition”? Read More …

RE-BLOG KEITH JOHNSON: TIME FOR ‘A CUP OF TEA’ ON BIG IDEAS?

Local economist, policy adviser and writer Keith Johnson says he will push for greater accountability, lower rate and debt rises, and higher levels of scrutiny for project planning and implementation. The contest for Wellington’s mayoralty is heating up, with profesional public policy analyst and citizen journalist Keith Johnson declaring that he will enter the race as an independent. Johnson joins incumbent mayor Celia Wade-Brown, deputy mayor Justin Lester and councillors Nicola Young and Jo Coughlan in declaring their candidacies in the October election. Reining in the Council’s sometimes massive, and apparently somewhat casual and arbitrary spending plans will be his top priority. Like Jo Coughlan, Johnson is highly critical of the Council’s approach to transport planning, arguing that it is driven by emotion rather than objectivity. He agrees with Jo that failure to solve the Basin Reserve’s peak hour congestion has resulted in “lost years” of progress, resulting from the canning of a proposed highway flyover and a failure to promote a practical alternative. Unlike all the other candidates who are standing, Keith is also highly critical of plans for the Council to contribute $90 million to the proposed Wellington Airport Runway Extension Project. He sees this as yet another Read More …