Airport Coalition says Safety at Risk
If Paraparaumu loses East/West runway
The Paraparaumu Airport Coalition representing original Maori landowners of airport land, and other community interests, opened its case in the Environment Court by citing safety hazards if the sealed alternate runway is closed permanently.
The Coalition is appealing against a decision by the Kapiti Coast District Council approving proposals put forward by the Auckland developers,
Counsel for the Coalition, Mr Leo Watson, told the Court that aviation safety could be jeopardized if the District Plan change goes ahead and the sealed East/West alternate runway is closed permanently.
The developer stopped fliers using the alternate runway in December after it had been in use for many decades.
Mr Watson said plans to close the runway for development, and replace it with a much shorter grass runway, available only to planes landing in emergencies, would mean the safety and well-being of the community would be affected.
The Airport Coalition also contended that the Court does have the power to determine matters relating to safety – and may in fact seek a higher level of safety than that required under the Civil Aviation Act.
It said:”The Court should adopt a ‘cautionary approach to ensure that an operational and safe crosswind vector (runway) is available to users.”
And it pointed out the crosswind runway is in use 21 per cent of the time.
On the Maori land issues, Mr Watson told the Court the developers’ plans failed to recognize the ancestral relationship of the original Maori landowners who hold ‘mana whenua’over some of the land.
Mr Watson argued that the Plan Change proposals approved by the KCDC do not properly take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi-and the kaitiakitanga (customary authority) of Maori over their land.
The case will continue today (Wednesday). Several representatives of Te Whanau a te Ngarara, representing the original Maori owners. will give evidence, as well as other aviation experts.
The hearing is expected to conclude by the end of the week.
Updated 12th March 2009