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Public consultation key to future of Whenuapai

Public consultation key to future of Whenuapai

Minister of Defence Mark Burton has today announced the next steps in deciding the future use of the land at Whenuapai Airbase.

Air Force Operations at Whenuapai are to be consolidated at Ohakea Airbase in approximately five years, and the disposal of the land (311 hectares) has generated significant interest by a variety of groups. Mark Burton stressed the importance of a transparent, robust process to determine the site’s future.

“It is vital that we put a process in place that will enable consultation with all interested central and local government agencies, as well as local communities. It is also essential that the public be well-informed about the government’s decision-making process in the disposal of this significant land asset.

“A multi-agency working group, which includes the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the Treasury, the Ministries of Defence and Transport, and the Crown Company Monitoring Unit, was established to consider both options for the land’s future use and a process for disposal.

“The group has identified four possible options for future use of the site. They are:

Use of the existing infrastructure as a commercial civilian airfield, Use of the property for other public works, Promotion of the property as an industrial/development site, or A return to residential usage.

“Before a decision can be made, there are a range of issues to be considered. These include possible economic impacts on the Northwest Auckland region and the Auckland region as a whole, transport and tourism policies, the Sustainable Cities programme, and consistency with other relevant initiatives in the Whenuapai area, such as planned highway and harbour extensions.

“The first step is an independent report on the feasibility of each of potential options. This work is currently underway and is scheduled to be completed by mid-October. The results of this report will form an important part of the discussion document we will prepare for public comment.

“Once the feasibility study is complete, we expect to begin the public consultation process. Two rounds of public submissions will take place, from mid-October 2003 to early February 2004. This will advise the paper I will present to Cabinet at the end of March 2004, allowing for Cabinet consideration of proposals in April 2004.

“Decisions on the future of the Whenuapai land must be made through appropriate consultation with all interested parties. Consolidation at Ohakea will not be completed for up to five years. It is essential that we use this time wisely, working through a transparent decision-making process that will allow all groups with an interest in the future use of Whenuapai to have their submissions fully and fairly considered by the Government.”

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