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Consultation On Future Airport Options

Today (20 April 2022) Council has opened consultation on the future of air transport in the Whangārei District.

Council General Manager Infrastructure Simon Weston said three options for further investigation as potential new airports for Whangārei were on the table along with continuing operations at the Whangārei Airport in Onerahi for now.

“We know we need to plan ahead and be ready for change in the air transport sector. The types of aeroplanes in use may change or Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules may change. Either of these could require the airport to shift from Onerahi one day.

“We have permission from the CAA to use the existing Whangārei Airport at Onerahi for now, even though it has a short runway with smaller than usual safety areas at each end. We have looked at extending the safety margins, but problems with this option mean we have also had to consider new potential sites elsewhere in our District.

“We have narrowed potential sites down to three. Now we want to hear what the public think about them before taking our investigations further.”

He said the three sites, Ruatangata West, Ruatangata and One Tree Point West all appear to meet many criteria a new airport would require.

This included enough clear flat land for a runway and clear airspace free of obstructions at either end, land for the operational area a new airport would require, and relatively close links to state highways.

“We know a lot about these sites from our assessments so far, but there are always things that locals know that we might not, and now is the time to find out what people want us to know.

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“We will be holding drop-in sessions at Ruatangata, Ruakākā and central Whangārei in the first couple of weeks of May, where people can talk through the detail with us and ask questions.

We will be encouraging everyone who wants to have input to send in a submission either online, by email, through the post or over the phone. Once we have collected the feedback, hearings will be held, and then Council will deliberate and decide which of the four options to explore further.

If a new site is selected several years of work will go into deciding ownership of an airport operation, seeking government contributions for funding and/or ownership, and (if the project goes ahead), design and construction.

“We believe an airport that meets the long-term needs for Whangārei and Northland is significantly important to our identity and the Region’s growth and economic prosperity.

“Infrastructure of this importance takes long term planning to ensure any commitments we make are feasible for our region and that we have taken our responsibilities seriously.”

Drop-in sessions

Monday 2 May: Ruakaka Recreation Centre - 4:30-6:30pm

Thursday 5 May: Ruatangata Hall - 4:30-6:30pm

Thursday 12 May: Forum North, Cafler Suite – 4:30-6:30pm

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