Wellington Scoop

Residents welcome request to delay hearing on runway extension

News from Guardians of the Bays
Residents’ and ratepayers’ group the Guardians of the Bays have welcomed news that Wellington International Airport has requested an interim adjournment of proceedings from the Environment Court.

The request from the Airport comes in response to the Court of Appeal ruling that the Civil Aviation Authority must reconsider its decision on the length of the proposed runway safety area.

Guardians of the Bays’ Co-Chair Richard Randerson said the request showed that WIAL has not considered all the issues in enough depth.

“We are pleased that the Airport is reconsidering its position. The runway extension proposal continues to face hurdles because it has not been well considered or evaluated. This serious concern around safety is just one of many examples where the numbers don’t stack up. There is already evidence that the proposal is likely to cost more than the $350m originally suggested.

“An extension to the runway safety area would push costs well over the half a billion dollars it is currently expected to reach and would put the project well outside the parameters of the current Environment Court application.”

Co-Chair Dr. Sea Rotmann said the burden to ratepayers and taxpayers of the proposed extension continued to be unacceptable – particularly as the suggested benefits are anything but guaranteed.

“No airline has committed to flying into an extended airport and the one airline currently flying (via Canberra) is getting very low loadings, according to an independent monitor of routes around the world. The Airport has specified the limit for its own investment in the extension at $100m now. Anything above this must come from Wellington ratepayers and New Zealand taxpayers. The business case for the runway still hasn’t gone through the Treasury’s Better Business Case process to prove if it is even eligible for public funding.”

In a meeting with the Guardians last month, Mayor Justin Lester said that the extension was not likely to happen anytime soon and that Wellington City Council would not commit to providing more than $90m.

“It was heartening to hear our Mayor show he is sensitive to the issues at play and that he has put a limit on more public funding to support the Airport’s case – we expect him to stand by that,” said Dr Rotmann. “The Council already gave the Airport $3m of ratepayers’ precious money to fund the creation of its reports, which are consistently being shown to be little more than ‘spin’ to support the Airport’s slant on the proposal.”

“It would be best for the Airport to withdraw its application completely, rather than further burden the hard-working individuals who are raising their own funds to be able to participate in the Environment Court Process.”


  1. Anabel, 9. March 2017, 8:08

    I am sure the residents would welcome an end (not just costly delays) to all the nonsense of ratepayers funding a runway extension.

  2. Mark Shanks, 9. March 2017, 8:23

    It’s a sad irony when ratepayers, through WCC, pay a mostly private company to scope a project that has been so poorly considered and with such skewered research, reports, and conclusions that the justly concerned ratepayers then have to use their own money to fight it.

  3. Greeny, 9. March 2017, 9:13

    But according to this RNZ report, the request for a delay has been denied.

    “Wellington Airport said it was considering an appeal to the Supreme Court, and asked for an adjournment of the Environment Court hearing while it looked at its options. But Environment Court judge Brian Dwyer said the pre-hearing conference was set down for 23 March, already giving the airport ample time to consider the Court of Appeal decision.”

  4. Ben, 9. March 2017, 9:23

    When it is not commercially viable for the airport company to recommend to its shareholders that they fund the runway extension, why should Wellington ratepayers be saddled with the cost. Particularly when the main beneficiary is the airport company? The council should get back to the basics, particularly when we have more people moving into the inner city to live. We need infrastructure upgrades and better transport long before we need a runway extension.

  5. Dr Sea Rotmann, 9. March 2017, 11:19

    Dear @Greeny – the airport asked to have until April 21 to make a decision if they would take the Pilots Association to the Supreme Court to keep fighting them (not how ridiculous it is that an airport is not siding with the people responsible for aviation safety so that they can save themselves a few bucks, but is willing to spend millions to drag them to court!) – the Enviro Court Judge Dwyer denied that lengthy decision timeline and said they’d have to know by March 21 if they decide to go to the Supreme Court. Which is only fair – this is costing us ratepayer and residents groups tens of thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees already – and the whole process may start from scratch because they didn’t do their due diligence on safety! WIAL is literally throwing our money into Cook Strait…