Developer slams Queenstown Airport

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Developer Alastair Porter has accused Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) of misleading the public over a land battle.

Remarkables Park Ltd (RPL) director Porter was reacting to comments made last week by airport boss Scott Paterson.

Paterson told Queenstown councillors the RPL-owned land was key to the airport’s future growth but efforts to forcibly acquire it were  .

The airport hopes to use the 18.4 hectares of land – labelled Lot 6 – to move its general aviation precinct for helicopters and light aircraft, allowing for a new parallel taxiway.  

Porter took issue with what he calls “misleading public relations spin”.

“QAC’s statements to public forums and to the media are unbalanced,” Porter says.

Porter says both RPL and Air New Zealand provided last year’s Environment Court hearing with “extensive” expert evidence that QAC does not need the land.

“With respect to that evidence QAC does not acknowledge that its case for taking the land has already significantly failed,” Porter says.

“The Environment Court’s interim decision [is] that at least half of the land was not required.”

The court is now considering whether the airport needs the balance of the land.

Porter also says QAC initiated the legal processes, instead of seeking to negotiate a solution.

And considering QAC will not negotiate with the firm directly, he says, RPL has no option but to defend its land ownership

“The final irony is that QAC already owns more than adequate land to the north for its expansion, which it gained as part of a ‘good faith’ contractual land exchange with our group in 1998.”

Paterson made the comments as the corporation delivered its six-month financial result to Council, its main shareholder, and its three-year statement of intent.

Airport board chairman John Gilks told the same meeting the corporation had looked at the other options to Lot 6.

“It’s not so much not feasible as not desirable,” Gilks says. ”The general aviation precinct do not favour being on that [north] side and CAA agree with them.”