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Growth Forum accepts recommendation for airport

23 June 2004

Growth Forum accepts recommendation for airport at Whenuapai

The Regional Growth Forum decided at a meeting today to accept the findings of a report that recommends that an airport with ancillary activites is the best option for the future of the Whenuapai airbase.

The Forum, which includes representatives from all the local councils plus the ARC, has agreed that the findings of a Joint Officials Group, which was formed to explore the possible options for the future use of the airbase, show that from a regional perspective there is no reason for the airport with ancillary activities option to not be recommended to the Minister of Defence.

The Growth Forum agrees that the airport option, which would include additional airport related activities, best meets a range of central, regional and local strategies as well as environmental, social, economic and cultural criteria, however it notes that there are significant community concerns that need to be addressed – particularly regarding noise.

“Consultation with the community, in particular those more directly affected, will be a key part of a number of detailed assessments that will need to be done before a new airport gets close to fruition,” says Growth Forum Chair, ARC Cr Gwen Bull.

Cr Bull says that community feedback has already indicated that noise is the single biggest environmental issue, and that this will be a key part of consultation with the community.

The ARC supports the Growth Forum’s position and has said that it will take a lead role in the process needed for the airport to be established to ensure that the interests of the wider region are taken into consideration.

The Growth Forum will now outline its position in a recommendation to the Minister of Defence for consideration during the next stage of the process of determining future use.

At this stage it is uncertain when the Government will make a decision regarding the next stage in the process for determining the future use of Whenuapai.

ENDS

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