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Airport Counsel: Panel ‘cannot Consider’ Impacts Of Runway Extension On Long-term Campground Residents

The plight of 115 long-term camp residents potentially facing eviction due to Nelson Airport’s private plan change request cannot be considered during the hearing, its commissioners have been told.

The assertation was made by the airport’s counsel on the first day of a week-long hearing considering the airport’s plan change and notice of requirement.

The changes would provide the airport with the necessary planning approvals to support its future operations – including the ability to extend the main existing runway to the north within the next 10-15 years.

However, the changes would also mean that swathes of the Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park would fall under new air noise designations that would effectively prohibit activity in that area.

The holiday park was originally determined to not need a resource consent for its village of long-term residents.

However, planning discrepancies discovered by the council in 2019 revealed that a resource consent was actually required to allow long-term residents, meaning the existing village is operating without a resource consent.

The holiday park has been working to try and gain a resource consent since that discovery.

However, the holiday park has received legal advice that if the airport’s sought changes were accepted, then the council would not be able to grant a resource consent for the village due to the restrictions imposed by the airport’s new air noise boundaries.

On Monday, Nelson Airport’s counsel for the hearing, Allison Arthur-Young advised the independent commissioners on the hearings panel that while they must consider the impact of the changes on the existing environment, that the existing environment did not include unconsented activities.

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“Long-term residential accommodation at the campground is unconsented, and the panel cannot consider effects in [a Resource Management Act] context on those activities,” she said.

“I take no joy in making these submissions, but it is a difficult and, with respect, very unique feature of this matter.”

Nelson City Council chief executive Nigel Philpott has previously said he empathises with the affected residents.

"Council has no intention of making anyone at the campground homeless. A resource consent has been applied for and our regulatory team is working on it as a priority," he said.

"I am confident a solution can be found that works for all parties."

The entirety of Monday was dedicated to Nelson Airport’s experts giving evidence to the hearings panel.

The Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park is expected to give its own expert evidence from Tuesday afternoon and will be the first of the submitters to the plan change application to present to the hearings panel.

Chair of the independent hearings panel, commissioner Helen Atkins, alerted attendees at the beginning of the day that the panel intended to adjourn, rather than close, the hearing at the end of Friday.

“We’re anticipating there is going to be some additional homework that is required.”

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