by Lindsay Shelton
The Wellington Airport campaign to promote a longer runway is similar to the Transport Agency’s campaign about building a flyover at the Basin Reserve. Both commissioned large numbers of experts to support what they wanted to do. Both failed to connect with the communities who would be most affected.
The Transport Agency commissioned 21 reports in support of its flyover idea –ten of them from Opus Consulting. This led to a discussion about conflict of interest, which was followed by the resignation of one of the four government-appointed members of the board of inquiry.
(At the same time as Opus was supporting the flyover plan, it was also writing a report for the Regional Council, warning that the consequences of building new motorways would increase congestion in Wellington. A reminder that experts can be commissioned to write reports that reflect different, even conflicting, points of view.)
The Transport Agency’s 21 reports failed to convince the board of inquiry, or the High Court, both of whom rejected the flyover.
And now the airport has released 27 reports, all singing the praises of a longer runway.
The one that we’ve focussed on is the noise report – which tells us that to build the runway there’ll need to be a truck-and-trailer-load of rocks travelling through the city every sixty seconds, ten hours a day, from Monday to Friday, for six months.