The Council has signed off on the Airport’s latest Statement of Intent, despite it leaving open the possibility of seeking an expansion of the Air Noise Boundaries (ANBs) when airline demand requires it, sometime after 1 July 2024.
Back in February 2020, at the height of concerns about the impact of over-tourism and where the Airport’s QAC growth business model was leading us, the majority of Councillors finally made good on their opposition to expansion of the ANBs. They expected the Airport to deliver a strategic plan that demonstrates how it intends to maintain its long term operational functionality while prioritising operating within the established ANBs. Since then, things have gone backwards.
The proposed strategic plan was a collateral casualty of COVID-19. The Airport is now to resume its planning process with a 10 year strategic plan to be completed by June 2022. How that intersects with the Council’s own strategic document, the Spatial Plan, will be interesting. So far, each is having regard to the other, with neither taking responsibility for providing the overarching strategic thinking.
In the meantime, the Airport promises only to delay the need for expansion of the ANBs by technology and management practices, while pursuing amongst its objectives to “Work with our airline partners to ensure connectivity to reflect underlying demand”. Business as usual in other words.
KPCA placed a submission before Councillors at their meeting yesterday to record our continued opposition to the direction of travel of the Airport; and to remind Councillors that the issue has not gone away. It will undoubtedly be an issue in the next year’s council elections.