A Wellington lobby group is taking the city’s airport to environment court for what it says is an “aggressive and unsustainable” expansion plan.
The group, known as Guardian of the Bays, has lodged an appeal against the airport after it was approved to turn a green space to the east of the building into more tarmac.
Co-chair of Guardian of the Bays Yvonne Webber says removing the “buffer area” between the airport and Strathmore Park will disadvantage the people living there.
“The community get vastly increased levels of noise, air and light pollution, and traffic congestion; New Zealand as a whole gets significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions as well, and the airport gets to make more money off the back of those two things.”
Webber says her group will take the airport to court based on several grounds ranging from noise pollution, to dust management and “vastly increased” traffic congestion.
She also says the plan shows “no commitment” to New Zealand’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.
But Jenna Raeburn, the general manager of corporate affairs for Wellington Airport, disagrees.
“Our current space constraints mean aircraft can wait longer for gates, increasing fuel burn; and we have limited capacity to cater to the needs of low emission aircraft in the future. For example, electric aircraft will be smaller and more numerous, requiring more aircraft stands; and hydrogen and sustainable fuels will require additional infrastructure.”
The expansion will allow room for aviation growth, but limit emissions.
Raeburn told the Herald it was important to note nothing is set in stone, and any proposals are just that.
“The expansion is not imminent. The designation supports our master plan, which provides the community with certainty as to how the airport is likely to be developed over time. Approval of outline plans will still be required before any work begins.”
She says having the airport closer will present benefits like accessibility and proximity to events – but action will be taken to lessen the impact regardless.
This includes ensuring there is still a “buffer zone” between the airport and neighbouring homes, providing noise mitigation to those closest and putting limits on airport noise like engine testing.