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Remarkables Park seeks halt to land acquisition

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 12:08 18/07/2012

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Remarkables Park could seek a judicial review if the Environment Court allows an ever-expanding Queenstown Airport to take over a block of their land.

The spectre of launching a judicial review was raised by the lawyer of landowner Remarkables Park Ltd, a prominent Queenstown property developer that is seeking to block the land acquisition. The acquisition is backed up by a notice of requirement under the Public Works Act for the 18.4ha land block known as Lot 6.

A High Court judge can overturn the ruling of another judge under a judicial review.

Royden Sommerville, Queens Counsel, doctorate holder and lawyer for Remarkables Park, fleetingly aired the possible strategy in an Environment Court hear- ing of the Lot 6 case yesterday.

"The judicial review process is still available," he told Judge Jane Borthwick, when referring to the notice of requirement that had been issued on the land.

Judge Borthwick asked whether Remarkables Park was disputing the Environment Minister's assessment that the land acquisition was of national significance, given that the minister had referred the case directly to the Environment Court.

Dr Sommerville answered "No", but there was a possibility the minister had not thought of where general aviation - unscheduled and charter flights by small non-airline companies, would operate from if the land was acquired by the airport.

The airport intends to shift general aviation and helicopter operations based mainly on the southwestern corner of the airport onto Lot 6 land. Remarkables Park and Air New Zealand argue that general aviation could be moved off-site to Wanaka or Glenorchy.

In the past, the airport and Remarkables Park - which is 75.1 per cent owned by the Queenstown Lakes District Council with the remaining shareholding by Auckland International Airport - have had a close working relationship.

Remarkables Park provided most of the landfill for the airport's runway extension safety area expansion to meet international jet-landing standards. The massive earthworks , completed in 2011, took 700,000 cubic metres, or 76,000 dump-truck loads. A land swap between the airport and Remarkables Park also took place in 1997.

Although the council, Remarkables Park and Air New Zealand are listed as opposing parties to the land acquisition, the council did not object to the deal and was attached more as a regulatory authority, as council lawyer James Winchester explained to The Southland Times.

"The council does not object to the proceedings, but is here to provide information on infrastructure that is vital to the hearing."

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