Wellington Scoop

Expanding the airport, in a climate emergency

airport extension 2

by Benoit Pette
Wellington Airport has issued a ‘notice of requirement” that it wants to change the designation of the southern part of the Miramar Golf Course to “airport operation purposes”. If the land designation changes, the Airport will be allowed to transform half of the golf course into parking for planes, right under residents’ windows.

The notification is on the City Council web site . Feedback is sought before the 12th of February.

The Airport must be worried about what the community’s response will be be, otherwise it wouldn’t have chosen this time of the year to seek it, right in the middle of the Christmas break, when most Wellingtonians are away on holiday. This tactic to mute the voice of the community has been used in the past (no later than last year) when the Airport was pushing for changes that would have adverse effects on residents who live nearby.

For that reason, NoFlyZone is asking that the consultation process be postponed till February, to ensure the community and local residents can truly take part. If necessary, the City Council, which owns a third of the Airport, should intervene to ensure the delay.

airport expanded

At a time when central and local governments have declared a climate emergency, it is irresponsible for Wellington Airport to try to expand – an expansion which will inevitably increase greenhouse gas emissions.

It is even more concerning since the Te Atakura – First to Zero implementation plan, approved by the City Council in August, is failing to achieve its target. Letting the Airport grow its emissions would jeopardise the small reductions that implementation could potentially achieve.

NoFlyZone believes that because there is a climate crisis, aviation growth should only occur when flying has become sustainable.

And for that reason, NoFlyZone is asking the Wellington City Council to decline the land designation change – to be consistent with its goal to reduce emissions, an aspiration supported by 92% of Wellingtonians . If necessary, the Council should engage with central government to block this expansion.

NoFlyZone is a voice for the community to oppose Wellington Airport’s adverse effects on climate change, residents’ wellbeing and health.


  1. Ms Green, 14. December 2020, 9:33

    Another little Chrissy present from the Council and the Airport company. Has anyone fathomed what the potential sale of Infratil might have on the Airport, and the dividend that the Council gets? The mayor is on this Board. Perhaps he could enlighten his constituents about these impacts on us and what he does to protect our interests? I fear our water and assets are in danger of being controlled by another secret Board/company.

  2. Claire, 14. December 2020, 9:54

    This part of Miramar golf course was also earmarked for housing. A far better use for the land than plane parking. A great place to build mixed-use housing. And the least controversial yet.

  3. Dr Sea Rotmann, 14. December 2020, 11:52

    Typical chicanery from the worst neighbour in Miramar and the biggest emitter in Wellington!

  4. Roger Blakeley, 14. December 2020, 12:26

    First, ask is expansion still needed in a post COVID-19 world of unprecedented change and more sustainable, agile, and resilient travel and communication, including much greater use of digital technologies. Second, is it compatible with a zero carbon economy? [via twitter]

  5. David Mackenzie, 14. December 2020, 14:01

    Golf courses are not necessarily the best environmental citizens, being consumers of water on a grand scale. But they have to be better than airports.

    Residential development would be more desirable, in this world of less travel and more concern for the well-being of the organism planet earth.

  6. K, 14. December 2020, 15:50

    Like cars, electric and hydrogen planes are in various stages of development, so there won’t be much in the way of future climate change impact from them till long after the airport expansion is finished. The first to be replaced with EV planes will be smaller regional routes, followed by the longer range domestic jet fleet, and finally the international market (which likely will be a hydrogen/EV hybrid solution). Check weflywright.com for an idea about what is coming for the larger EV planes, and also google the airbus E-fan X for what might be coming very soon in the way of a hybrid EV/jet fuel solution as an interim.

  7. Zoomer, 14. December 2020, 16:02

    Can anyone explain why the Miramar peninsula is so overrun by antediluvian greens, BANANAs and NIMBYs? Almost nothing can get done over that way without a tidal wave of complainers sticking their oars in trying to stop any progress in its tracks. Peter Jackson can’t be funding every one of these groups, surely?

  8. Peter Kerr, 14. December 2020, 16:53

    Better an antediluvian green than a post-diluvian refugee, Zoomer. We don’t mind progress, so long as it’s not in reverse.

  9. Tim Jones, 14. December 2020, 20:08

    Wellington Airport reminds me of the old movie “The Blob”, in which “An alien life form consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.”

    Wellington Airport and its counterparts around the world are consuming our futures – all our futures. It’s time the Wellington City Council stopped enabling the expansion of the airport “Blob” – and time Wellingtonians said ‘enough is enough’.

  10. TrevorH, 15. December 2020, 6:14

    There has been a golf course on that land for more than a century. It uses a mix of recycled and mains supply water when there is insufficient rain. It is sad to see one of the Peninsula’s premier green, recreational spaces being lost to tarmac.

  11. Short T, 15. December 2020, 11:48

    Miramar Peninsula is going through crazy times with Airport Extensions and Housing Developments proposed. However the obvious thing that isn’t being said is it is just that – a ‘Peninsula’ with ultimately one way in and one way out! Even if second tunnels are one day put into Mt Victoria and under The Terrace, having these proposed developments isolated still won’t be sufficient. So why don’t we just shift the Airport to say the northern end of Transmission Gully ie Paraparaumu’s Queen Elizabeth Park (yes another green space) and put a couple of thousand residences on the Airport land? We may get away without needing the Terrace Tunnel, as traffic may be going both ways day and night and passengers south of Masterton across to Levin won’t need to travel through Wellington City?

  12. K, 15. December 2020, 13:11

    Golf courses are simply immoral in an urban city area. They take up a gigantic amount of space and are used by a tiny percentage of the population who are more than amply served by various golf courses outside the urban environment. Golf is in the same league as motorsport race tracks and equestrian activities: there is zero reason for these recreational activities that require large dedicated pieces of land to be located within city limits when the cities are desperate for land for housing/commercial space. I’m all for public green space for locals to use, but golf clubs are nowhere near meeting that definition.

  13. Ms Green, 15. December 2020, 13:19

    Could the golf course use recycled water/grey water gravity fed from the sewage treatment plant above it?
    Or would that create a big stink?

  14. Tim Jones, 15. December 2020, 14:01

    From memory, $80 million to support a runway extension is in the Wgtn City Council’s current long term plan. They’re consulting on the next LTP – please call for the Council to allocate *no* money or support for runway extension: https://letstalk.wellington.govt.nz/long-term-plan

  15. Ms Green, 15. December 2020, 15:21

    And the Council supported (with multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars) the company’s application for a resource consent … fighting the ratepayers using the ratepayers’ funds. The mayor who is on the Board could enlighten us on how much this cost us and why.

  16. Laserxop, 15. December 2020, 17:20

    Please proceed with the project. NZ needs to continue to grow and modernize.

  17. John McCaskey, 15. December 2020, 19:55

    A whole planeload of us owe our lives to the fact that with Rongotai weathered out we made it to Paraparaumu! Is this country governed by idiots? Wigram should still be alt for Chch …. pathetic!

  18. Dave B, 15. December 2020, 21:24

    Some while ago I remember thinking how helpful it would be if a small slice of Miramar Golf Course adjacent to the airport could be taken for a railway station. Not only would this be useful for getting to the airport, but also to help service the growing number of homes and businesses that are expected to come to the area. But I struggled to see how the golf course cold be compelled to relinquish even a sliver of its precious turf, and had visions of irate golfers brandishing their clubs if anyone tried!
    Now it seems the Airport Company can just barge in and claim a massive chunk of it for aircraft parking. Clearly I wasn’t thinking big enough with my timid vision of the narrow strip needed for a railway connection.

  19. Stephen Edlin, 15. December 2020, 22:06

    While they are building whatever, how about constructing a road at the base of the hill on the other side of the golf course. It would help relieve traffic pressure and be helpful in an emergency if other roads are damaged.

  20. Phil, 16. December 2020, 8:59

    Don’t play golf, don’t care. If you are worried about emissions, don’t fly. Simple.

  21. John, 16. December 2020, 9:03

    Consultation is a chance for the 1% of moaners to have a jolly good moan. The rest of us don’t care that much, we aren’t affected one way or the other. It’s a really bad way to make decisions.

  22. Thomas Nash, 16. December 2020, 9:36

    My priority would be investing in regional and inter-city passenger rail ahead of airport expansion. [via twitter]

  23. Benoit Pette, 16. December 2020, 19:37

    On the airport expansion plan, I have so far received feedback from Regional Councillors and MPs. Nothing yet from City Councillors or the Mayor and how they’ll reconcile it with their climate emergency.

  24. Ray, 17. December 2020, 10:50

    Oh come on the Airport company is a good neighbor. it has soundproofed my home and always keeps me informed of work being done at night etc. So if you chose to live by the airport, suck it up and let progress happen. And if you don’t like progress, move elsewhere. THE AIRPORT IS HERE TO STAY

  25. James Renwick, 17. December 2020, 13:56

    No way do I support the expansion of Wellington Airport. So 20th century. [via twitter]

  26. Zoomer, 17. December 2020, 15:52

    The most fervent opposition to any development of our airport is from Green Party activists who happen to live on the Miramar Peninsular. Let’s remind ourselves that this party’s leaders happen to be some of the airport’s biggest users, with an average air travel spend of $5703 per list MP in the July-Sept quarter.

  27. Benoit Pette, 17. December 2020, 16:17

    @Ray: Good on you for getting double glazing fitted, you’re amongst the very few who’ve received this treatment, and we’re looking at a decade-long backlog to retrofit all the nearby, eligible houses (source: the Airport). Also, I could live in Gisborne but it wouldn’t make this expansion more legit. You can’t escape the reality that climate change is real, that it affects everyone and requires everyone to act & change, regardless of where they live. That’s especially true for big players like the Airport, who can afford (the expansion plan will cost $1B) to really act on climate change, or at least not make it worse.

    Denying that fact is oblivious to laws of physics and is a mindset that belongs to another age. Your vision of progress might have been valid in the 80s, but in 2020, if it’s not sustainable, it is suicidal. “NoFlyZone believes that because there is a climate crisis, aviation growth should only occur when flying has become sustainable.”: that, is progress.

  28. Jenny Kay, 19. December 2020, 16:47

    Holding consultation on Wellington Airport expansion plan over summer holiday break is one way to reduce local input. [via twitter]

  29. Ross Clark, 23. December 2020, 5:38

    The airport would do better to buy out the golf course completely.

    In terms of a runway extension, it certainly isn’t needed. If the airport is so keen to have direct services through to Asia, the better option is to wait for aircraft capability to get to the point that one could fly from WLG to Singapore directly. This may be closer than we think.

  30. luke, 23. December 2020, 10:09

    Ratepayer-subsidized golf needs to go. Complete waste of prime real estate. Only a small minority play golf yet it takes up vast chunks of our urban areas.

  31. Benoit Pette, 23. December 2020, 14:31

    @Ross: as long as it’s not on fossil fuel, I’d be happy for it to go to London direct if it can. But ONLY when planes are quieter (way quieter) and their tailpipe emissions are zero.

  32. TrevorH, 23. December 2020, 15:26

    @luke. Miramar Golf Club is not subsidized by the ratepayers, unlike many other activities in Wellington.

  33. luke, 23. December 2020, 16:20

    TrevorH well if you’re sure it pays its own way, rates like any other property and it’s the optimal use for the land then market forces will dictate what happens with the resource.

  34. TrevorH, 23. December 2020, 19:20

    @ Luke: no, not “market forces” but the threat of compulsory purchase and the huge legal costs to contest this. We have a City Council that conspires against the interests of those who fund it, time after time.

  35. TrevorH, 24. December 2020, 8:53

    The expansion of Wellington Airport on its present site is typical of the blinkered, short-term thinking that holds this city back. The airport should never have been built where it is. Transport links are limited, the weather can be precarious and expansion of the runway too costly to make any economic sense. The opportunity should be taken now to move Wellington Airport up the coast to the lower Horowhenua. Transport links are being constructed from Wellington (Transmission Gully, the Kapiti and Otaki Expressways) and from Hawkes’ Bay (Te Ahu a Turanga, SH3) that would efficiently deliver passengers and freight to a new international airport. A dedicated rail spur could also be constructed between it and Otaki and electrified. Overnight Wellington’s congestion problems would largely disappear and pressure on expensive city land considerably eased. Why is this not being done?

  36. Rita, 24. December 2020, 18:11

    Are there any councillors out there who are going to speak up for us ratepayers? Is the business case still valid in these new times? Are ratepayers still putting money towards an unwanted runway extension? Has anyone explored using the land for housing? It mght hold enough houses to balance out all the empty ones the airport has already bought.