The airport expansion

Why does Wellington Airport want to expand?

In its 2040 Masterplan, Wellington Airport outlines a vision where the runway is extended, and 15.6 hectares of the golf course is replaced with tarmac. This will enable the airport to increase its operations, and its shareholders’ satisfaction:

By 2040, we expect 12 million passengers to fly in and out of Wellington Airport every year – double the current numbers.

This was before COVID, and in a universe where climate change does not exist. To fulfil its vision, it bought half of the golf course (a buffer between the Airport and the residential area, according to the Welligton District Plan). In early 2021, it wants to change the land designation of the golf course land it owns from “golf course” to “airport operations”. Smart.

In the Full Notice of Requirements, Wellington Airport explains why they feel they need to expand their land area. It seems the residents are a customer pool to draw from, a cheap workforce and an annoyance:

Being conveniently located close to the City comes at a price for Wellington Airport, in that there are some legacy issues facing the Airport due to its establishment within existing residential suburbs surrounded by hilly terrain. One of the major constraints is the Airport’s limited landholdings.

Full Notice of Requirements, page 51

The “legacy issue” (aka the residents) is setting a limit to their plans to expand:

(…) However, there are limits to this intensification, and it has become clear via the master planning exercise that the Airport requires additional land to accommodate both its landside and airside activities, as well as remove existing operational constraints.

Full Notice of Requirements, page 51

Guardians of the Bays opposes this expansion

  1. With an expansion, Wellington Airport hopes to handle more air traffic. This will inevitably generates more carbon emissions, an inconceivable consequence in a climate emergency;
  2. With increased emissions coming from Wellington Airport (from increased air and land traffic), Wellington’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2050 (through the Te Atakura program) will be even more jeopardised;
  3. This expansion will replace a green space, marked as a buffer in Wellington District Plan, with a plane park, bringing airport operations right next to Strathmore residents’ homes. This will destroy the livelihood of this suburb with no credible mitigation plan.

Latest post on the expansion

WIAL’s decision to proceed

Guardians of the Bays are considering their options after hearing that Wellington International Airport (WIAL) have today accepted the Notice of Requirement (NOR) and airport expansion on the Eastern Side of the Airport into the Miramar Golf Course. The hearing of WIALs NOR expansion plans faced a large number of objections and criticism from the […]

Read our submissions

What it’s going to look like

To change the land designation, the airport had to provide a full stack of materials, including a visual impact assessment. Below are renderings made by the airport and available in their full notice of requirements (from page 124).

What has happened

  • Late 2020, early 2021

    Wellington City Council appointed an Independant Panel to review the land designation changes the Airport applies for, on the Main Site and the golf course.

    A hearing was organised after the independant panel received about 350 submissions, mostly opposing the expansion.

  • 24th of August 2021

    The panel of Independent Commissioners has revealed their final recommendation on the change of land designation.

    Guardians of the Bays is disappointed with the recommendation and is considering its options.

What next?

  • 5th of October 2021

    WIAL must have advised the Wellington City Council whether it accepts or rejects the recommendations in whole or part for each NoR.

    As a Requiring Authority, they can ignore the recommendation, and even overwrite the District Plan and its rules, including noise protection for nearby suburbs! In their submission to the panel, they already indicated they wanted noise limits to be lifted!

  • 27TH of October 2021

    At the latest, the Wellington City Council must have notified all the submitters and the community of Wellington Airport’s decision.

  • 17th of November 2021

    At the latest, any party wishing to appeal the Airport’s decision to the Environment Court must have lodged it.