This year’s process of QLDC agreeing to the Airport’s strategic direction – think expanding Noise Boundaries – is about to kick off! The Council is meeting next Tuesday, the 25th, to agree a timetable for delivery of the Airport’s corporate document, the Statement of Intent (SOI); and to approve a Statement of Expectations to be sent to the Airport (QAC), which will inform the drafting of the SOI. The Council has introduced a new step in the process, a Steering Group comprised of four Councillors (including the Mayor) and three Airport Board members, plus both QLDC and QAC Chief Executives, aimed at ensuring the SOI meets expectations of councillors. This is clearly an improvement on 2019 efforts, but we still won’t hear what is said behind closed doors. (See our criticism of last year’s SOI process in ‘Don’t leave us in the Dark’; and to the June 2019 Council Meeting at https://kelvinpeninsula.org/submissions/ under ‘Airport expansion plans’.)
The risk of ‘industry capture’ remains inherent in this collaborative process. The Airport has changed from a publicly owned utility operating for the benefit of the community, to a corporate who sees its primary role as meeting the demands of airline companies for landing slots. That puts it on a path of growth in aircraft movement and passenger numbers which clashes, irreconcilably, with the consequences of population growth in the Wakatipu Basin.
Councillors, elected to represent the Community’s interests, must guard against being captured by the interests of the air travel industry.