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Wanaka Airport is set to remain a top topic of discussion in 2020 as the Wanaka Stakeholders Group progresses with judicial review proceedings at the High Court in Invercargill.

Deputy chairman Mark Sinclair said a judicial conference was held on Monday night between the group’s legal team and the judge.

The aim of the conference was to set the timing for the stages that go towards the eventual hearing, Mr Sinclair said.

He was unable to provide further details but an announcement would be made soon.

Chairman Michael Ross said the group would continue to work to determine “fundamental questions” as to the lawfulness of the transfer of ownership and control of Wanaka Airport to the Queenstown Airport Corporation.

It was time to challenge the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s (QLDC) processes and the corporation’s effective acquisition of Wanaka Airport, he said.

“This should happen before anything is done by QLDC to give up full ownership and control of Wanaka Airport.

“What has been unlawfully done should first be undone.

The council voted at their last meeting to a modified Queenstown Airport Corporation statement of intent for the 2019 year that had previously been rejected in August, and to creating a steering group to work through issues around the new 2020 statement of intent.

Council chief executive Mike Theelen said agreeing to the 2019 statement of intent adopted by the corporation on August 20 would “draw an important line in the sand”.

“The recommendation is to put our collective energies into the new document, due in March 2020,” Mr Theelen said.

“To satisfy any concern that councillors and the community may hold, QLDC has sought an emphatic reassurance from QAC that it will work in good faith with the new council on a new [statement of intent] to reflect concerns raised over the course of the year.”

A council spokesman said the steering group would meet as required to workshop through outstanding issues around the 2020 statement of intent before March 1.

It was likely that staff would engage with the steering group informally many times throughout the drafting phases to seek direction, he said.

SIMON.HENDERSON

@thenews.co.nz