Whenuapai Airport Nightmare Nearly Over

“The Whenuapai commercial airport nightmare is nearly over”, according to North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams. The Mayor is delighted that Waitakere City Council have agreed to postpone the Plan Change 22 Hearings for Whenuapai Airbase that were due to commence …

January 30, 2009

Whenuapai Airport Nightmare Nearly Over

“The Whenuapai commercial airport nightmare is nearly over”, according to North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams. The Mayor is delighted that Waitakere City Council have agreed to postpone the Plan Change 22 Hearings for Whenuapai Airbase that were due to commence on February 9th.

This was announced today following a meeting this morning between Minister of Defence Dr Wayne Mapp and Waitakere City Council.

“I have been in discussions with the Minister over the past month and also raised this matter with Prime Minister John Key at the Mayoral Forum ten days ago, specifically request ing the Government to intervene and have the hearings deferred or cancelled pending a major Defence Force paper going to Cabinet in March re Whenuapai Airbase.” says Mayor Williams.

“I would like to thank the Minister for acting on North Shore City’s request to have this unnecessarily expensive process stopped when the airbase is the subject of a major paper to Cabinet in just a few months. This was going to be a very costly exercise for ratepayers, taxpayers and all parties/citizens involved in the hearings. Quite irresponsible at a time when such expenditure should not be taking place when the message is we are all looking for cost savings within local and central government, and when the Auckland Region is undergoing a complete review by a Royal Commission” says Mayor Williams.

“I am also very confident that we will see a comprehensive and categorical decision by Cabinet that Whenuapai will remain as an ongoing military airbase for many decades and generations to come, eliminating once and for all any suggestion of this becoming a commercial airport. We simply want the airbase to remain there so that the jobs and economic benefits it brings to Waitakere, North Shore and the rest of the region, not to mention security for Auckland, will remain. This should most certainly be the case as John Key’s own Helensville Electorate pamphlet (Whenuapai airbase is located within the PM’s electorate) prior to the election stated as its first issue:

“”Key local issues:

Whenuapai – National will rule out the development of a commercial airport and we will be retaining it as a military facility. “”

Mayor Williams further states “My concerns have been echoed by large numbers of citizens across the North Shore, particularly those affected in Greenhithe and the East Coast Bays under the flight path, that any commercial airport operation would have significant adverse environmental effects on their neighbourhoods.” says Mayor Williams. “Potentiallly there could have been constant flights from dawn till midnight, seven days a week, creating noise and airline fuel pollution for our residents. The impact on North Shore’s beautiful environment would have been immense. This nightmare is now nearly over”.

“I was also most concerned about the impact on the great many schools in the flightpath such as Rangitoto College, Pinehurst School, Kristin School, Albany Junior and Senior High School, Upper Harbour Primary and Greenhithe School. International research shows that schools under an airport flight path can be adversely affected by the constant overhead noise. I am told for instance that when the occasional airforce plane flies over Upper Harbour Primary that the teachers have to stop teaching and wait for the noise to pass. Fortunately with the airforce this is only very very occasionally. This would not have been the case with a commercial airport”. says the Mayor.

“The deferral of these hearings also will be good news for many North Shore property owners who have not relished the prospects of the airbase being rezoned to allow a commercial airport. This was a dark shadow hanging over owners living in the flight path and something I was also most concerned about. Cabinet needs to ensure that Whenuapai is determined once and for all so that people can get on with their lives without this potential distasteful prospect hanging over them.”

“As soon as we have the final answer from Government I will also then be wanting to have the joint venture North West Airport Company Ltd wound up. This is a paper company with shareholders Infratil, Waitakere City Council, Rodney District Council, and North Shore City Council. My Council has already in the past year unsuccessfully asked to be released as a shareholder in this company, which had been a decision of the former North Shore City Council. A move that was pushed through on the casting vote of the previous Mayor. I am hopeful the reason for the existence of this company will cease to exist in the very near future”.

“Meanwhile I have been very mindful of the need for greatly improved access to Auckland International Airport and in the past year we have secured significant improvements including the Northern Express Flyer airport service, airport shuttle vans now also permitted on the Busway, and transit lanes are making travel time improvements across the Shore and other parts of Auckland.” says Mayor Williams. ” We are also well down the ‘track’ towards plans for another cross harbour link, probably tunnels, which would include electric rail services from North Shore City through the Auckland CBD and on out to Auckland Airport and other areas of the region. This is all positive in terms of providing an integrated roading and public transport system that will ensure our regional and international airport is well connected” says Mayor Williams.

-ENDS-

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