Council wants public to keep off airport land

SHARE

MATT.TSO
@thenews.co.nz

The Central Otago District Council says residents are going to have to stop using Alexandra airport like a recreation reserve.

In recent times, members of the public had used the airport grounds for a range of activities such as dog walking, driving lessons, horse riding and rabbit shooting, the council said, posing a risk to themselves as well as to aviation users.

CODC property and facilities manager Mike Kerr said activity at Alexandra airport was increasing and locals would have to cease recreational activities on airport land as a matter of safety.

He said the council would engage with the community via its website and social media to educate the public on the dangers of using airport land for recreational activities.

The council would also look at the possibility of fencing along the road that borders the airport to reduce the number of vehicles getting on to the airfield and runway.

“We really want to discourage people from driving on all areas other than the road and airport car park area.”

Mr Kerr said the airport was becoming busier as more private aircraft owners looked to Alexandra as an alternative to nearby airports.

“With what’s happening with Queenstown and Wanaka, there could be significant demand in Alexandra [for] development associated with private planes.

“We are already getting overflow from people that believe there is no room for them [in Queenstown and Wanaka].”

Mr Kerr said the council wanted to avoid any possible conflict between members of the public and airport users.

Aviation enthusiast and Alexandra airport resident Nigel Forrester agreed the public needed to stop using the increasingly busy airfield for recreation.

He said there had been a few close calls with people on or near the runway and the public needed to acknowledge the land was for airport use only before a more serious incident occurred.

Mr Forrester said education would play a key role in stopping people using the airfield for recreational activities.

“It’s about safety. A plane can’t stop or swerve [out of the way] like a car can.”

He thought increasing use of the airport was great for the area as more people flew in and supported local businesses.

He said increasing development could have a positive effect for Alexandra in the future and people walking on the airfield was not a good look.

“You wouldn’t walk your dog at Christchurch airport,” he said.