Opinions are divided about how discussions on the future of Wanaka Airport should be taking place, with community groups wanting a say before development of a master plan by the Queenstown Airways Corporation (QAC).
Overtourism and the impact of noise or traffic increases at Wanaka Airport are a concern for locals, Luggate Community Association chairman Graeme Perkins says.
‘‘There is quite a groundswell in Luggate that are very concerned with development.’’
A presentation to the association last week by the Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) highlighted concerns QAC would develop a master plan that the community would have to respond to, instead of the community having a say first.
‘‘Then QAC [would] have to tailor any plans to what the community feels is appropriate to the area,’’ Mr Perkins said.
Luggate residents had a special stake in any development at the airport because of their proximity to the site.
‘‘Any noise or traffic increases or whatever, we are going to feel the impact.’’
Another concern was for many businesses that were established at the airport, he said.
‘‘The flight schools, the parachute drop people, and all the little businesses that exist up there now.
‘‘There is a general concern about their longevity there or whether they are at threat, and that has an impact on the people here at Luggate as well.’’
However, QAC general manager, property and planning, Rachel Tregidga said demand forecasts would take into account current operators and their future business plans, as well as looking at population and visitor demand.
An airspace study would confirm what type of aircraft could operate in and around Wanaka Airport, taking into consideration things such as terrain, weather patterns and possible flight paths.
‘‘We are very aware that aircraft create noise and we will look for ways to minimise and/or mitigate potential impacts where possible,’’ she said
‘‘Wanaka Airport has a proud history of general aviation and it forms an important part of the region’s economy.
‘‘Once we understand both the overall demand for aviation services, and what is possible in the air, we need to establish how this could or should be provided for at the airport.
‘‘This would include looking at where general aviation could be located and how different types of aviation would work together.’’
Detailed work was expected to be completed late next year, she said.
WSG member Andrew Waterworth said the world of tourism was ‘‘evolving and growing incredibly quickly’’.
If Wanaka Airport became a commercially run jet-capable airport it could ‘‘easily have two million passenger movements a year’’, he said.
‘‘Our Facebook page has just run a poll asking people whether they were concerned about overtourism.’’
In it 416 people voted on the question ‘‘Is ‘Terrible Tourism’ going to become New Zealand’s next key phrase.’’
Eighty-eight percent voted yes and 12% voted no.
This ‘‘spoke very clearly’’ to the fact the community was worried about rapid growth in tourism.
The absence of a ‘‘destination master plan’’ was of great concern, he said.
QLDC projections had Wanaka doubling in size by 2058 and an estimated 56,000 tourists a day on peak days by about the same time, Mr Waterworth said.
‘‘We still haven’t got a strategic plan from the council as to how it is going to manage the significant amount of growth that is happening here.’’
But Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Bridget Legnavsky said they were confident the business community would have an opportunity to share their thinking concerning the Wanaka Airport.
‘‘It is QAC’s role to develop a master plan for the Wanaka airport that is sustainable, future-focused and captures the local community’s aspirations.’’
‘‘QAC is in the early stages of this process, which started with community engagement in May this year, and QAC has signalled that the community will have further opportunities to share their views of the Wanaka Airport over the coming months as the master planning moves into the more detailed stages,’’ Ms Legnavsky said.