‘Cautious’ of airport’s plans

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Business operators are calling for Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) to hold fire on plans to extend its noise boundaries until a “wider destination vision” for the area’s sorted out.

DowntownQT, which represents businesses in the resort’s CBD, has submitted on QAC’s proposed noise boundary changes, arguing the airport should carry on operating under its current boundaries.

Steve Wilde, DowntownQT boss, says at the moment it’s “impossible” for the organisation to back the airport’s plans.

While Downtown members reap the benefits of growth in town, many are worried about the repercussions of making major decisions now, without a “fully-integrated destination plan”.

They’re concerned the proposed noise boundaries will affect the experience in the town centre.

“While that area is outside the proposed extended boundary, any increase in aircraft movement will none-the-less be measurable within the town centre zone, and any increase in movement will have an unfavourable effect,” Wilde says.

The airport’s proposing to extend its noise boundaries into residential areas, including Frankton Road, Kelvin Heights and Lake Hayes Estate, affecting another 3000 homes.

QAC wants to almost double the number of annual scheduled aircraft movements the current boundaries allow for, and more than double annual passenger movements by 2045.

Wilde says it’s “prudent for the QAC to plan ahead” for increased visitor demand, but DowntownQT supports “sustainable, well-planned and suitably-funded infrastructure growth”.

“We’re not saying we are against growth – we are just cautious.”

QAC boss Colin Keel says growth’s an “important topic of discussion” and the airport’s mindful it’s “only one part of that equation”.

The company’s working through nearly 1500 survey responses, as well as public submissions on its plans – it’ll comment on the feedback in the next few weeks.

joshua.walton@scene.co.nz