Nearly 800 submissions were received by the Greater Wellington Regional Council regarding the Wellington International Airport’s (WIAL) resource consent applications to extend its runway. Of the submitters, more than twice as many were against the extension than supported it. The matter will now go to the Environment Court, which at the time of writing was meeting to prepare directions as to how the hearing would progress.
NZALPA’s submission was clear that an extra 355 metres of runway does not translate to more safety area. Many existing operators flying into Wellington will use up the extra runway by carrying extra load (whether passengers or cargo), resulting in a reduced safety margin. An Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) that uses a specially installed surface, which quickly stops any aircraft that moves onto it, was also suggested as a viable safety alternative.
In addition, the outcome will soon be known of a judicial review taken by NZALPA against the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and WIAL decision that just a 90m runway end safety area (RESA), as part of the total 355m runway extension, would be sufficient.
In the run up to local body elections specifically, both NZALPA’s consent submission and judicial review application received considerable attention from local government, mayoral and council candidates, and media, due to the considerable safety risks and international examples NZALPA presented.
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