Friday, May 27, 2022
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New airport not in their backyard

  Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air

One Tree Point West is not the place to build Whangārei’s new $150 million airport according to a Ruakākā community leader.
Ruakaka Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Jules Flight said the location was too built up.
“There are too many high value residential properties in Marsden Bay that would be adversely affected,” Flight said.
Ruatangata was instead the best of the three proposed new Whangārei District Council (WDC) airport site options. This was because its establishment there impacted the fewest local residents, he said.
Flight’s comments came at a WDC Ruakākā ‘have your say ’ meeting on Monday night (2nd May) less than 10 minutes drive from One Tree Point West – one of three new potential airport sites WDC is looking at for a future district airport.
The other two are Ruatangata and Ruatangata West. The council is looking to move the district’s airport from Onerahi because it says that site has potentially outlived its life.
However, it is also seeking public feedback on staying put at Onerahi as a fourth option for the future.
Flight said a new Onerahi airport was needed. However One Tree Point West was not the location for it.
“It’s too close to the fizzing residential areas,” he said.
An airport would stop that residential growth. People did not want to live beside an airport.
Flight said a new airport was like other major new infrastructure such as a dump, sewerage plant or prison. Nobody really wanted it in their area.
About 100 people attended last night’s WDC ‘have your say’ meeting, at the Ruakākā recreation centre.
It was one of three to be held before the end of May. The next will be at Ruatangata hall on Thursday, less than five minutes’ drive from both the proposed Ruatangata and Ruatangata West airport sites. A final meeting will be held at Whangārei’s Forum North on May 12.
Meeting attendee and One Tree Point resident Rachel Rogers said a new airport in her locality would negatively impact real estate prices.
She said people who bought houses beside Wellington or Auckland airports knew there was an existing airport nearby when they purchased.
However, many of those who had bought around the One Tree Point area had not known that was a possibility when they purchased.
Rogers, and a number of other meeting attendees, said a new airport would negatively impact tsunami evacuation routes out of One Tree Point. There had been local traffic gridlock during March 2021’s Northland-wide tsunami evacuation. That would be made worse with the airport cutting across main access roads such as One Tree Point Rd.
Marsden Bay businessman Keith Newey said One Tree Point West should be left as it was, its presence balancing the more developed eastern area of One Tree Point, including Marsden Point, the port and other industry.
Retiree Gaye Cann has lived Ruakākā for 70 years and said it was ‘stupid’ to consider putting it at One Tree Point West.
“It won’t affect me personally, because I’ll be gone by the time it starts, but it’s too built up round here now. It’s just a crazy idea,” Cann said.
Takahiwai’s Dion Webb said his house was in the proposed local airport’s flight path. He did not want to live with the resulting noise pollution in the place that had been his home since he was “a kid”.
One Tree Point resident Gillian Archer said the land for the proposed airport was almost at sea level and close to the ocean.
She said that brought coastal inundation concern which had become even more pressing with new sea level rise warnings brought to light this week.
Archer said geologically speaking, the whole One Tree Point area had been under the sea in the past. This could be seen by natural wave-like topographical features, in places where land was not too modified.
One Tree Point resident Lucina Kau Kau (correct) was worried her rates would go up to pay for a potential new airport in her neighbourhood, when it still had open drains and other needed infrastructure that hadn’t been dealt with. She was concerned about impact on native fauna such as kererū which visited her property.
A few at the meeting were not against a new local airport.
Ruakākā resident of just nine months Norm Fagg, said he did not mind the idea of a new One Tree Point West airport. He lived 300 metres from Queenstown airport for 15 years before moving north last year.
“I don’t care about it being there, about the noise,” Fagg said of One Tree Point West.
Ruakaka Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary Richard Morris said he wasn’t particularly concerned about the local arrival of a new airport.
WDC has received 200 submissions about the potential site for Whangārei’s airport going forward. Consultation opened on April 20. It closes on May 25.