Submissions Reaffirm Strong Public Opposition
Submissions Reaffirm Strong Public Opposition To Whenuapai
Auckland 10 May 2007 –An overwhelming 97% majority opposing the Waitakere City Council’s proposed Plan Change 22 to rezone Whenuapai land to pave the way for commercial air operations reaffirms what opponents of the plan change have known all along, and that is “a commercial airport is not in the public interest or common good” says Whenuapai Airbase Action Group President Russell Stewart.
In response to a call for voluntary submissions in respect to Plan Change 22, 2655 submissions were received with 97% being in opposition to the plan change. 82% of the respondents were from the North Shore, the region most affected by the planned actions of a neighbouring council and about whom there was significant debate and controversy over the notification process being extended to include North Shore residents.
Mr Stewart says “it was a conscious strategy on the part of the Waitakere City Council to leave North Shore residents out of the loop on their plan change proposal knowing full well that the intended flight paths impact most on North Shore neighbourhoods.” With the assistance of supporter funding, not for profit group WAAG was able to pay for newspaper coverage in the North Shore region to alert communities to the impending action thereby providing them with an opportunity to participate in a process which may otherwise have passed them by. Mr Stewart points out that this process should have been managed by North Shore City Council, making the criticism of private funding of a public awareness campaign all the more shameful.
“Essentially, with the assistance of our members, volunteers and supporters we did what is ostensibly the duty of our council to do and the outcome speaks volumes about why we perhaps did this and North Shore City Council did not.”
Mr Stewart says that cries of foul play from proponents of the airport look decidedly “fishy” when pitched against both the quantity and quality of submissions that include not just individuals and families but also hard hitting submissions from public sector offices and organizations that include; Ministry of Defence, the Auckland Regional Council, Transit NZ, the Board of Airline Representatives NZ (which represents all airlines flying within or to NZ), the Ministry of Education, Airways Corp of NZ, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Auckland International Airport, the Green Party, the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society, Auckland Motor Sport, V8 Supercars and of course, WAAG.
“Seldom can there have been such a powerful and experienced group of submitters opposed to a council plan change” says Mr Stewart.
“Call us what you like; Nimbies, Notes or whatever, but the depth and breadth of concern raised in these submissions makes it clear that there are issues of national significance here and to suggest this is a small regional issue concerning only a handful of residents is to seriously underestimate the broader issues at stake here” says Mr Stewart who cites issues of climate change, environmental damage and economic viability as being “just for starters in the argument against Whenuapai becoming a commercial airport.”