Rumours of new airport examined

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014

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Venture Southland is investigating "rumours" that plans are under way to resurrect a failed bid to build an airport in northern Southland.

A Venture Southland directorate meeting was told this week that investigations were under way into problems Queenstown Airport may have in accommodating the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner and what, if any, long-term implications that may have on Southland infrastructure and services.

Yesterday Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said his team had been asked by the Venture Southland joint committee to investigate a rumour that another airport would be built outside Queenstown.

The investigations came after Southern Institute of Technology chief executive Penny Simmonds asked at a joint committee meeting earlier this year if an airport was planned for the Mossburn area, he said.

The idea of building an international airport at Castlerock near Mossburn was last raised in August 2008.

The airport proposal was given a land use consent by the Southland District Council in 2003 but the decision was later overturned by the Environment Court after an appeal by objectors.

There had been suggestions that the Porter brothers, of Remarkables Park in Queenstown, were considering the idea, Canny said.

Canny questioned if the suggestion was real.

If it was, then the implications for Queenstown and Invercargill had to be considered, he said.

The investigation had just started but so far had proved inconclusive, with nothing of substance, he said.

Any findings would be reported back to the joint committee in July.

Remarkables Park chief executive Alastair Porter said it was interesting to hear the matter was being considered by Venture Southland.

He was holding talks with Queenstown Airport about its expansion.

"It is not appropriate to comment at this stage while negotiations are under way and until they are complete, I cannot comment," he said.

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- The Southland Times

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