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Submitters slam airport effluent plan

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014
Fiordland Aero Club
BARRY HARCOURT
RISKY CHOICE: Fiordland Aero Club chief flying instructor Murray Hagen says effluent spread over land near Te Anau airport will increase the risk of bird strike. 

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The Southland District Council is putting pilots and its $8 million airport near Te Anau at risk with the proposal to spread effluent over land near the airport, a Fiordland Aero Club flying instructor says.

The council has proposed a 19 kilometre pipeline to pump effluent from Te Anau to land adjacent to the Te Anau airport, near Manapouri, where the sewage would then be spread over the land by irrigation.

Of the 141 submissions received on the consent application, 131 were against and six supported the proposal. Four were neutral.

Fiordland Aero Club chief flying instructor Murray Hagen's submission said the club was opposed because of safety concerns.

Irrigating the land next to the airport would attract more birds, increasing the risk of birds striking aeroplanes.

Included in Mr Hagen's submission is an email from Civil Aviation Authority aeronautical services officer Max Evans.

"If the CAA notices an increase in the number of [bird strike] incidents, action may be taken against the aerodrome operator . . . or, in the worst-case scenario, revocation of the aerodrome operating certificate."

Many submissions against the proposal told of concerns of the impact it would have on Manapouri. Elderly Manapouri resident Maru Bradshaw's submission said: "I plan to sell my house to have something to contribute to my will.

"How the hell do [you] think I'm going to get a rent for my house when there is a giant s...... at my back doorstep."

Holidaymakers were also opposed to the proposal.

Ben Wornall, of Gore, said he owned a rental property and used the area recreationally.

"If freedom campers can't s... where they want, what makes it OK for the council to?" his submission says.

Submitters' demands included the development of an environmental management plan, a backup plan in case the system failed, and consideration of alternative proposals.

A date for the hearing has yet to be set.

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- The Southland Times

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