What the experts had to say about Wellington Airport's runway extension
Wellington Airport has published more than 20 independent reports that scrutinise its plans for a 354-metre runway extension. Here is a summary of what they say.
The cost-benefit analysis found the runway extension would generate $2.1 billion in economic benefit to the nation if operational by 2020. By comparison, spending the project's $300m construction cost on promoting Wellingtoninstead would generate $1.1b in benefits. The report weighed up benefits such as greater passenger and freight loads coming into Wellington, long-haul passengers not having to connect to Auckland or Christchurch, more competition and increased tourism against the cost of paying for the project and lost revenue to airports elsewhere.
Extending the runway involves constructing a full section rock dyke around the perimeter of the reclamation area, and protecting it with concrete units called Accropodes, designed to resist the action of waves. Once the rock dyke is in place, 1.1 million cubic metres of fill will be tipped in. The reclamation will then take six months to settle before tarmac is laid on top. The whole project is expected to take three years.
All work will generally be within acceptable construction noise limits, with the exception of night-time periods for certain tasks. Moa Point residents will have the option to receive noise insulation for their property and can sell their property at "pre-extension value" to Wellington Airport, in addition to the recently offered $10,000 payment.
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The materials required for the reclamation will be delivered by land and water, or a combination of the two. Materials arriving by land will likely be coming from existing quarries at Kiwi Point, in the Ngauranga Gorge, and Horokiwi, south of Petone. On weekdays, there will be up to 60 trucks an hour operating through local suburbs, but only during off-peak times, and only on roads around the airport that have a capacity of between 1400-1800 vehicles per hour.
Niwa found there would be no significant or lasting effects on the bird, marine mammal and fish life in the immediate area of the extension. It also considered the risk of any adverse effects on water quality during construction to be low. Erosion and sediment control plans will be used to manage the environmental risk from sea-bed disturbances.
LANDSCAPE AND URBAN DESIGN
The greatest visual impact of the extended runway will be on the eastern side by Moa Point. The airport has proposed to build a new three-metre-wide walking and cycling path from Lyall Bay Parade along the west side of Moa Point Rd to a new lookout point with seating at the existing breakwater. Moa Point Beach will be reinstated in the corner where it meets the runway with an enhanced ecological habitat for colonisation by marine life. The space within the Moa Point Rd tunnel will be fitted with brighter lights to improve the visibility of path users to traffic and improve their experience.
LYALL BAY SURF
Modelling predicts the runway extension will not cause a noticeable reduction in wave height or surfability at the main surf area known as "The Corner", but does predict a decrease in the rideable waves in the middle and west of the bay. The airport has proposed to build a submerged rock structure 500m out to sea to potentially improve the surf conditions. This "wave focusing structure" will focus the incoming swell and create peaks that will deliver longer wave rides. The reports do not predict any adverse effects in terms of beach safety or swimming.
There are no Maori sites of significance that will be affected directly. The historic Moa Point is located beneath the current runway. Historically the area has seen finds of taonga (carved stone and bone items) along with moa bones. Protocols will be in place to deal with any "accidental discoveries" during construction.
Public consultation will run until February 12. There will be three public open days where people can meet one-on-one with the experts who prepared the reports. The open days will be held at Chaffers Dock Function Centre on December 2 from 12pm to 3pm, at SPCA Fever Hospital in Mt Victoria on December 3 from 5pm to 8pm, and at the Brentwood Hotel Conference Centre in Kilbirnie on December 5 from 12pm to 3pm.
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