Airport opposition to district plan called out in meeting

Invercargill airport

John Hawkins

Invercargill airport --

The Invercargill Airport has forked out $150,000 on legal bills, and a city councillor says this may be inconsistent with the Southland Regional Development Strategy. 

The Invercargill City Council discussed its triennial agreement on Tuesday. 

The agreement set rules and protocols for how various local authorities interacted. 

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In the meeting, Cr Ian Pottinger spoke about the wording of the agreement. 

The document says the Southland Regional Development Strategy reflected the desire for "a strong focus on regional, social and economic development".

The strategy's development needed to be acknowledged in the regional and district plans, and in the council's long-term plans, the document says. 

Pottinger said the airport was "a strong economic arm" of the council. 

"I am just struggling then on how our airport is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on opposing the district plan," he said. 

"I just can't quite get my head around if this [agreement] is theory, or if this is practice." 

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The city council had received 16 appeals against its district plan. 

Pottinger said the Invercargill Airport, a council-controlled company, paid $150,000 in legal bills to oppose the plan. 

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt said the airport matter was already being dealt with through negotiation. 

Since about 2011, the airport has been in conflict with parts of the council's proposed district plan. 

The airport board wanted changes to the district plan's wording. Currently the plan would limit the airport to functions with no more than 100 people. 

Southland Regional Development Strategy chairman Tom Campbell said the airport capacity was significant to the Southland Regional Development Strategy. 

The strategy aimed to increase Southland's population by 10,000 during the next decade.

"The airport is owned by the city. It's a strange situation," Campbell said. 

The regional strategy was about attracting many more people to the city, he said.

"The airport being able to fill a broader role than it does at the moment is very important to the strategy." 

 - Stuff


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