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Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has helped establish an annual $30,000 community fund for Tarras, and the establishment board has already decided $20,000 will go to Friends of Tarras School this year.

The establishment board comprises Tarras locals Pete Jolly, Rachelle Haselgrave, Michelle Dacombe and group spokesman Jonny Trevathan.

A committee would be formed to lead the fund’s annual decision-making process, Mr Trevathan said.

CIAL is investigating the possibility of building its second airport at Tarras.

A CIAL spokeswoman told the Otago Daily Times yesterday the goodwill contribution reflected the company’s commitment to do the right thing and make a positive contribution to Tarras.

Community groups had approached it for funding.

CIAL took corporate responsibility seriously and so long as it owned Tarras land and was exploring the airport project, it would commit $30,000 a year to the community fund, she said.

There was no requirement for the fund committee or applicants to support the airport proposal, she said.

“We know that it’s a really difficult situation, we know we will be criticised. There will be those who view this cynically . . . but we want to do the right thing,” she said.

Mr Trevathan said the establishment group knew the community well and would be able to ensure the fund was set up in a way that reflected Tarras values and put the money where it was needed most.

CIAL said in a newsletter yesterday the fund was “a no strings attached contribution that will also sit outside any mitigation we may have to make if our project proceeds”.

“It’s simply a recognition that Christchurch Airport is a large organisation actively working in Tarras and sees supporting the community as the right thing to do.”

The establishment group is working on finalising and releasing more details.

Sustainable Tarras chairman Chris Goddard said no-one in the community was complaining about the school receiving support but it was important the money got to “the right spot”.

“There will be strings attached,” he said.

That was because CIAL was 75% funded by Christchurch ratepayers and 25% funded by central government, and was therefore using public funds to support Tarras projects, he said.

Mr Goddard said Sustainable Tarras expected the CIAL board to keep a close eye on the spending.

“The board needs to be absolutely certain it has gone to the right places to get maximum effects, because it is public funds,” he said.

Other projects that could benefit from funding included the Tarras church (earthquake strengthening) and Tarras Cemetery.

It was not clear if the new fund would cover Lindis conservation projects that also deserved funding, he said.