by Helen Martin
Around 90 people turned up to Helensville War Memorial Hall on 23 May to take part in a public consultation process concerning the application of West Auckland Airport, Parakai, to the Ministry of Transport, to become an airport authority.
The letter sent by MoT to some local residents had alarmed many by stating that, should airport authority status be granted, the Parakai airport would be able to set its own bylaws (with approval from Central Government), and would be able to apply to the Minister for the Environment for “requiring authority status”, which would give the airport greater autonomy from the Council in protecting land and airspace under the Resource Management Act.
The letter also stated that “West Auckland Airport has applied for authority status as it plans to develop the airport, with the aim of attracting commercial passenger-carrying airlines” and “could include a new, longer runway.”
The meeting was useful in that the MoT outlined the submission process, including extending the submission date to June 14 to give people time to respond, but the explanation from Parakai Airport Manager Simon Lockie was far from satisfactory. While we were all reassured that the application was merely a housekeeping matter in order to change the status of the airport (it’s currently under rural production zone rules), many in the audience were less convinced by his assurance that the airport would be “driven by what the community wants.” Pressed to explain Parakai Airport’s vision for the future of the business, Mr Lockie had nothing to report, a response which seemed particularly naïve to many in the audience, especially in light of the letter we’d received with information to the contrary.
MoT spokesperson Tom Forster emphasised that this application is merely for a change in status and that any other developments would require further applications.
Submissions can be sent by June 14 to ParakaiAirport@transport.govt.nz or West Auckland Airport Consultation, Ministry of Transport, PO Box 3175, Wellington, 6140.