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Disposal of Whenuapai airbase land

13 December 2004 Media release

Disposal of Whenuapai airbase land

"The government has decided not to proceed with decisions on the disposal of Whenuapai Airbase at this time," Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton said today.

"The New Zealand Defence Force has now advised the Cabinet that the consolidation from Whenuapai to Ohakea will not be completed until at least 2010, and possibly as late as 2014. Indicative planning by Defence suggests that it will take a minimum of 6 years to redevelop and relocate the Air Force to Ohakea.

"Therefore, because the land at Whenuapai will clearly not be surplus to defence requirements for some years to come, Cabinet has decided that it is premature to initiate a disposal process at present.

"We share Waitakere City Council’s interest in minimising the economic impact of the Defence withdrawal from Whenuapai. The Council should be reassured that the air force will remain there at full or close to full strength for at least another six years.

"The Whenuapai airbase will be disposed of using the Public Works Act once the Defence Force no longer needs it.

"The government is well aware that the Waitakere City Council wishes to use the Whenuapai land for a commercial airport.

"As a result of extensive investigations the government has concluded that there are no compelling national or strategic considerations to justify central government’s active involvement in establishing a commercial airport at Whenuapai.

"The government is therefore taking a neutral position on whether any such airport should go ahead.

"The land was acquired for defence purposes under the Public Works Act in 1938 so we are required to use that Act to dispose of the land,” Jim Anderton said.

Under the Public Works Act, land that is held for a particular work but is no longer required for that work must be offered back to the original owners or sold, unless it is required for another central or local government work. Treaty of Waitangi obligations also need to be considered.

ENDS

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