Dirt on the runway

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Remarkables Park boss Alastair Porter says his deal with Queenstown Airport Corporation is a three-way win.
The airport corporation is excavating about 38 hectares of bare land at Remarkables Park and will use the 770,000 cubic metres of dirt to extend the airport runway.

“It’s a win for the airport, a win for us and a win for Queenstown and tourism,” Porter says.
QAC boss Steve Sanderson agrees.

“We can use Porter’s fill off his subdivision so he gets a shaped subdivision – and we get free fill,” Sanderson says.

The airport, and Queenstown, sure needs that fill.

If 90m extensions at both ends of the runway aren’t ready by October 2011, Civil Aviation Authority regulations would ban trans-Tasman flights.

The airport has land to extend the runway at the Frankton end but the other end requires the extension to be built out over the Shotover – to a height of 45m.

The 86,000 truckloads of spoil were originally to come from the Shotover Delta during an Otago Regional Council flood-mitigation project – but that’s gummed up in the Environment Court, jeopardising the airport’s October 2011 deadline.

The substitute deal on Porter’s dirt means the runway extension should be finished by March next year.

With Remarkables Park and Queenstown Airport being next-door neighbours, there are mutual freight savings over the excavated dirt – and Porter and Sanderson talk big numbers.

Sanderson says QAC is contributing $5 million to the earthmoving. In return, the airport gets fill which would usually cost $7m, Porter says – and then there would normally be cartage costs on top.

And freight is where Porter also saves big-time, Sanderson says.

Remarkables Park would otherwise have faced a $20m bill to get rid of its fill further afield, the airport boss says.
Porter: “The dirt is right next to the [runway extension] job.”

And because no public roads are involved, heavy-duty articulated dump trucks called Moxys can be used to shift 55 tonnes of earth each trip.

Seven of the multi-terrain six-wheelers will do 10-minute shuttles to and from the runway extension site.

Porter says about a quarter of the dirt is being excavated for stage two of Remarkables Park Shopping Centre – which is why the deal has “some benefit” to his company.

“There was a big hill 3m-6m high which will be excavated out so that the extension of the shopping centre will be a seamless flat extension.”

The remainder of the 38ha is being excavated for future residential development, Porter says.