Minister fast-tracks airport expansion bid

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Environment Minister Nick Smith has intervened to fast-track controversial Queenstown Airport expansion plans.

Queenstown Airport Corporation originally applied to the Environmental Protection Authority to take over 19.1 hectares of Frankton land owned by Remarkables Park Limited. 

Remarkables Park is opposed and has plans to put a golf course on the land – but Smith yesterday announced he’s directed the application to go straight to the Environment Court. 

“Queenstown is a place of national significance and the airport is the gateway to an iconic region of New Zealand that is growing as a tourist destination. That is why I have accepted that it is a nationally significant application,” Dr Smith says. 

The Environment Court is already weighing up applications for rezoning and timing of flights in and out of the airport and the most sensible option for QAC’s expansion bid is to be considered in the same forum, Smith says. 

“Directing this application to the Environment Court will give a fair opportunity for all parties to express their view, ensure the matter is considered with the other issues over Queenstown Airport while also ensuring decisions are reached in a timely way.” 

Queenstown Airport, one of the fastest-growing in Australasia, wants the alteration to service anticipated growth in the number and size of aircraft in the next 30 years.