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Regional airport costs outweigh benefits

MEDIA RELEASE


Regional airport costs outweigh benefits

For immediate release: Monday 7 August 2006

The economic costs of developing a regional airport appear to outweigh the benefits, according to a report being presented to Environment Bay of Plenty on Tuesday.

A report to the regional council’s Strategic Policy Committee recommends that the regional council stops looking into the feasibility of a regional airport. A regional airport would replace the existing local airports at Rotorua, Tauranga and Whakatane.

The report is stage two of a study into whether the Bay of Plenty would benefit from a regional airport, says Strategic Policy Committee chairman Ian Noble. The first part of the study, done in 2002, was an initial look into whether there might be benefits for the region in investigating the proposal.

At Tuesday’s meeting the committee will decide whether the study continues. The report also suggests the proposal may be looked again in the future.

Mr Noble says this second stage report looked at the financial feasibility and cost benefits of a regional airport. It found that a regional airport wouldn’t be financial feasible at either of two locations it investigated – Pyes Pa and Paengaroa.

“It’s been a valuable project because it was a question that needed answering,” says Mr Noble. “But it found that it would have had huge financial costs for the region and that those costs appear not to be justified at this time.”

The report found that the economic benefits of a regional airport would only exceed the cost at the Pyes Pa location, but that even there the benefits were low.

Mr Noble says the information that has been gathered during the course of the project has been beneficial. “It was a very useful thing to do because it’s given us a lot more information about how much it would cost to develop a regional airport and what would be involved.”

If the committee decides that the regional council should carry on with the next phase of the study it will continue with a more detailed investigation. This will include looking at weather at the sites and capital costs.

ENDS

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