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Rotorua trans-Tasman airport another step closer

News Release
Tuesday 13 November 2007

Rotorua trans-Tasman airport another step closer

ROTORUA 13.11.2007: A final decision to approve runway extension works for Rotorua Regional Airport is a step closer this week with the decision by the Environment Court to cancel its scheduled court hearing tomorrow and conclude the remaining matters through correspondence with Judge Bollard.

This follows news that Rotorua District Council has reached agreement with all parties who had lodged appeals against the independent commissioners’ earlier decision giving the green light to the airport developments.

Rotorua District Council planning services manager, Tracey May, said the four groups of objectors had all agreed to withdraw their appeals having reached agreement with the council.

“It’s taken a monumental effort by many people and a significant amount of goodwill on the part of all parties involved. However we are delighted that agreement has been reached in each case. While the terms of the agreements are bound by confidentiality I can confirm that some extra conditions have been agreed to that will involve additional and ongoing dialogue between the parties.

“A number of finalised documents, including information on the agreements reached between the council and appellants, needs to be with the Environment Court by Friday this week for the judge’s consideration.

“At this stage, all indications are that the outcome will likely be a very positive one for the airport,” said Ms May. “Once the Judge makes his final determination, which we would expect by the end of November, the Plan Change and Notices of Requirement can become effective.”

“It’s certainly a significant development for a plan change of this magnitude to not need to progress to a formal Environment Court hearing and it wouldn’t have been achievable without the genuine co-operation and open minded approach of everyone involved.”

Mayor Kevin Winters said it was very satisfying that the end of the long and complex planning process was clearly just around the corner.

“There’s no doubt this has been a complex and contentious issue and we have always been keen to find acceptable solutions for everyone likely to be affected by the airport plans. I take my hat off to those people and organisations who have come to the party, and in particular I pay tribute to the council Planning team for their meticulous and highly professional management of the process.

“I am confident that we will soon have the decision we have been waiting for and it will lay the foundation for what will ultimately mean direct trans-Tasman air services to Rotorua, with substantial economic benefits accruing for our community.”

Mr Winters said the next process, once the Environment Court’s approval to proceed was given, would be to secure an earthworks consent and start work on the construction phase for the runway extension.

It is expected that the work could be completed and the airport ready for trans-Tasman services by mid 2009.


Timeline & statistics

 17 December 2005 - publicly notified
 May 2006 - end of public consultation - over 500 submitters
 29 Aug-22Sept 2006 - 12 days of hearings by independent commissioners
 Feb 2007 - reconvened 1day of hearing
 8 May 2007 - decision released
 2 July 2007 - appeal period closed - 4 appeals received
 6 Sept 2007 - Environment Court mediation
 16 Nov 2007 - agreements filed with the Court
 End Nov - Environment Court decision anticipated


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