Porter takes aim at airport on land claim

High-profile business director Alastair Porter has taken aim at Queenstown Airport and accused the corporation of unbalanced PR spin over a land battle.

Queenstown Airport Corporation is engaged in a legal battle over undeveloped land known as Lot 6, which the airport says is critical to the long-term expansion of the aerodrome.

The land - owned by Remarkables Park - was subject to a notice of requirement and labelled as a nationally significant proposal by the Environment Minister.

However, Remarkables Park opposed the bid for "priceless" land and argued other land near the airport was suitable for expansion.

Last week, airport chairman John Gilks told Queenstown Lakes District councillors that acquiring the Lot 6 land was critical for the airport and the region.

"If we do not do it now then people sitting around this (council) table in 20 years are going to say it was a very sad day," he said.

However, Remarkables Park director Mr Porter said the group and Air New Zealand had provided expert evidence that Lot 6 was not required.

He said there was an irony regarding complaints about protracted litigation as the airport started legal proceedings.

"The airport is now appealing the Environment Court's decision to the High Court, which will substantially increase litigation costs for all parties including, indirectly, Queenstown ratepayers."

He said the airport already owned adequate land to the north of the existing aerodrome, land obtained as part of a "good faith" swap with Remarkables Park in the 1990s.

The Southland Times