The Environment Court has refused to rubber-stamp an agreement between Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) and other parties on aircraft noise boundaries.
Airport bosses thrashed out a broad agreement on future aircraft noise levels and monitoring with Queenstown Lakes District Council, nearby landowners, residents and airlines in the days before the Environment Court was due to sit on the issue in January.
Noisy neighbours: Queenstown Airport
Environment Court Judge Jane Borthwick instead heard solicitors for both parties outline the agreement, which the court was required to approve.
But in its interim decision released yesterday (Monday), the court rejected parts of the agreement.
“A number of outcomes proposed by the parties do not find favour with the court,” the decision reads.
“This is because some of the changes agreed by the parties were…. not supported by their expert witnesses.”
QAC has been embroiled in a long-running dispute about Plan Change 35 – which details the Queenstown District Plan will be altered to change noise boundaries surrounding the airport to accommodate airport growth to 2037.
It reached an agreement with Queenstown Lakes District Council, Remarkables Park Ltd and Shotover Park Ltd, Air New Zealand, who originally appealed the plan change.
Residents’ group Wakatipu Residents Against Airport Noise (WRAAN) withdrew from proceedings after agreeing a home noise insulation package with QAC.
But the Environment Court failed to ratify the agreement with regards to noise monitoring software, the minimum number of noise monitoring locations and the amount of leeway in the noise levels.
It means Queenstown Airport could have just one decibel of leeway when complying with noise restrictions over the next 25 years. Experts had agreed to a 2dB margin.
“We do not agree with the compromise reached between the noise experts,” the interim decision says.
“While an increase in the noise level of 2dB might be barely discernible to residents as an acoustic effect, a 60 per cent increase in air traffic would involve a large number of additional aircraft movements which would have a very significant effect on the amenity of their daily lives. This includes, but is not limited to, the Remarkables Park Zone.”
The court also did not agree that noise levels should only be monitored in future years with 2012 noise monitoring software, rather than upgraded software.
And it ruled a minimum of three locations should be used when QAC monitors noise levels every three years, rather than the two suggested.
All parties will now be given a chance to respond to the interim decision.
There are no comments on this article.
Have your say
You will need to register or login before you can post a comment.