Wellington Scoop

Don’t pay the airport, say ratepayers

The Wellington City Council’s website shows substantial opposition to the council’s plan to give $90million to the Wellington Airport company to help pay for a longer runway. Two days after Mayor Wade-Brown gave her support in principle for making the payment, the website shows 58 per cent opposition to such a gift.

The level of opposition comes in the form of online comments, which have been invited by the council as an alternative to making the usual written submissions.

So far (up to midday today), 139 people have taken advantage of the invitation to send their online opinions about the $90million donation.

Of this total, 79 of them are against making the payment.

The council’s summary says that only 42 per cent of the feedback supports the plan. And it says 56 per cent of the submitters say the project should be given the lowest of five possible levels of priority.

The council has chosen eight of the comments and placed them near the top of the online summary of why it wants to help pay for a longer runway. Of the selected comments, two are enthusiastic, and six are opposed.

There’s no such opposition from any of the mayors who discussed extending the runway at their Mayoral Forum on Friday. There are, however, two differing reports on what they decided. The DomPost says the mayors agreed to pay up to half the cost of $300million. But a summary released by the Wellington City Council says the mayors agreed only to support in principle a proposal to pay half the cost.

Either way, the Wellington City Council has included the amount of $90million in its long-term plan, on which public submissions are now being sought, and on Friday Mayor Wade-Brown confirmed support for making the payment.

But she will be aware that it’s a highly controversial topic – which has attracted the second largest number of online comments.

Top of the list is the council’s much-delayed plan to build separated cycleways. 172 people have sent online responses on this subject, and there’s 63 per cent support. [Since this article was written, the percentage has gone up.]

But there’s no such majority support for giving $90million to the airport company, in spite of the fact that Mayor Wade-Brown seems to have made such a commitment to the Mayoral Forum.