Quick Submission Guide on the Civil Aviation Bill 2021


This guide is prepared by Guardians of the Bays. We’re a community group set up to oppose Wellington Airport’s expansion plans. But all over the country, communities are facing more noise and more disruption from airports’ aggressive expansion plans – which are also making the climate emergency worse.

The Government’s new Civil Aviation Bill could do a lot to reign in airport noise, aviation emissions, and airports’ powers to ride roughshod over local communities. But it doesn’t. We have till Thursday to submit to make it stronger. The Guardians are going to submit, and we hope you will too!


The Civil Aviation Bill 2021 is open for submissions. Submissions close at 11.59 pm on Thursday, 02 December 2021

You can submit here: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/document/53SCTI_SCF_BILL_115765/civil-aviation-bill 

This guide explains why submitting on the Bill is important – please use the proposed submission points below, add your own points, and make a submission!

According to Minister of Transport Michael Wood: “This bill repeals and replaces the Civil Aviation Act 1990 and the Airport Authorities Act 1966 with a single, modern statute that will provide a platform for safety, security, and economic regulation of civil aviation now and well into the future.

But there’s a gaping hole in the Civil Aviation Bill: it does almost nothing to address aviation’s contribution to the climate emergency.

The relentless drive by Wellington Airport and other New Zealand airports to expand their flight and passenger numbers represents a threat both to climate and to local communities.

Even during the COVD-19 pandemic, airport companies have pressed ahead with plans to expand existing airports and create new ones as this helps them grow their asset base and increase their profits – which has led to the absurd possibility that three international airports will be inflicted on Central Otago (in Queenstown, Wanaka and Tarras).

There are some very modest climate-related measures proposed in the Bill, related to monitoring aviation emissions. That’s important and worth supporting, but it’s a pinprick compared to the scale of the problem.

What needs to change in the Bill?

The Bill is large and complex. It has implications for civil liberties, the return of land and the COVID-19 response, among many other aspects.

The proposed submission points below are specifically designed to impose much stronger climate change requirements on airports and restrict their ability to operate with impunity. However, we encourage you to look at all the other aspects of the Bill.

Proposed submission points

Making reducing greenhouse gas emissions a key purpose of the Bill

The purpose of the suggested amendments below is to ensure that specific, measurable, and urgent greenhouse gas emissions reductions are a central objective of the operation of New Zealand airports:

Amend Clause 3, Main purpose

Change Clause 3, Main purpose, from “The main purpose of this Act is a safe and secure civil aviation system.” to ““The main purpose of this Act is a safe and secure civil aviation system that contributes to specific, measurable, and urgent greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”

Amend Clause 4, Additional purposes

At present Clause 4, Additional purposes: reads “This Act has the following additional purposes: … (e) to take into account the adverse effects of civil aviation on the interests of people, property, and the environment.”

We propose the following changes:

  1. In subclause 4(e), add “with particular regard to the adverse effects of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from civil aviation”, so that it reads “to take into account the adverse effects of civil aviation on the interests of people, property, and the environment, with particular regard to the adverse effects of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from civil aviation”.
  2. add new subclauses 4(f), 4(g) and 4(h):
    1. 4(f) To ensure that bringing about specific, measurable and urgent greenhouse gas emissions from aviation operations, including flights, is a primary consideration in all decisions regarding airport licensing and operations, including but not limited to proposals to build new airports, expand existing airports, extend airport runways or build new runways.
    2. 4(g) To implement a cap on gross domestic and international aviation emissions at 2021 levels, and to reduce this cap annually to ensure sharp reductions in gross aviation emissions during the first three budget periods of the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan.
    3. 4(h) To ensure the monitoring and minimisation of high aviation flight paths, especially of international flights, to reduce particulates of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphates, soot and water vapour in aircraft contrails which have the greatest climate-changing impact.

We further propose that additional clauses should be added to the Bill to give effect to the amended Clauses 3 and 4(e), and new clauses 4(f), 4(g) and 4(h).


Clause 58 Rules for noise abatement purposes

This reads: “The Minister may make rules under section 52 prescribing flight rules, flight paths, altitude restrictions, and operating procedures for the purposes of noise abatement in the vicinity of aerodromes.”We support this clause and request that the Minister exercise this power to make rules that prescribe flight rules, flight paths, altitude restrictions, and operating procedures to abate noise in the vicinity of airports.

In particular, we request that noise levels in the environs of each airport be capped at or below current noise levels, thus ensuring that additional airport operations will not create any additional noise exposure for nearby residents.

We further request that particular attention be given to significantly reducing recreational aviation operations in urban areas, as the noise adversely affects large groups of residents for the benefit of a small number of recreational flyers.

Other matters

Other matters you might like to comment on include:

Clause 226 Aerodrome to be operated commercially

This clause provides that an aerodrome operated by an airport operator must be operated as a commercial undertaking unless it’s council-controlled

We propose that this clause be changed so that airports should not be operated as commercial undertakings.

Explanatory note: In our view, the profit motive leads directly to airports wanting to grow their asset base, which in turn leads to many of the airport expansion and new airport proposals we’re currently facing.

Clause 232 Airport operators must consult concerning capital expenditure plans

This clause requires the airport operator only to consult with ‘substantial customers’.We propose that this be changed to “substantial customers and the community that surrounds the airport.”

Make your submission here: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/document/53SCTI_SCF_BILL_115765/civil-aviation-bill

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