Rural airports alarm

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Informal airports restricted to two flights per day could be allowed to pop up across Queenstown country-side.

Queenstown council’s proposed district plan (PDP) lets anyone establish and use a backyard landing strip or heli-pad on rural land, if certain rules are followed.

Local councillor and rural resident Val Miller says that’ll be “really dangerous”.

“People need to seriously think about what it’s going to be like when you have 10-20 helicopters flying over you,” she says.

“The other awful thing that happens is because it’s not regulated, it’s down to the neighbours to count how many flights people are taking.”

An arrival and departure is counted as one flight.

To comply with the proposed rules, any informal airport must be located at least 500 metres away from any other zone or the boundary of a residential unit or approved building platform on a different site.

Malaghans Road resident Peter Faul, who previously objected to Australian billionaire Tim Roberts’ resource consent application for a heli-pad on his 12-hectare property on the same road, says the proposed policy “is ridiculous”.

Peter Faul

“It constitutes a major breach of privacy.”

The airports would be allowed on public conservation and Crown pastoral land, as well as in the rural zone outlined in the PDP, which is the largest type of rural area in the plan.

Miller says the policy was approved as a “minor” part of stage 1 of the PDP and that councillors weren’t really “aware of the implications”.

The policy would allow the use of an informal airport on public conservation land where the aircraft’s operator has a concession.

On Crown pastoral land, the operator needs a recreation permit.

Informal airports in all zones could also be used for emergency landings, rescues, fire-fighting and farming-related activities.

Several Arthurs Point residents are opposing proposals by Gertrude’s Saddlery Ltd to build a heli-pad on its land off Atley Rd, for one flight per day.

They claim it would cause high noise levels and could lead to more applications to set up pads nearby.

joshua.walton@scene.co.nz