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Airport runway extensions approved

By BEN HEATHER in Queenstown - The Southland Times
Last updated 05:00 02/10/2009

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The Queenstown Airport's future as an international airport is secure, after it bypassed objections to safety improvements with help of a neighbour.

The Remarkables Park development will provide 700,000 cubic metres of fill for the airport to build its $5 million Runway Extension Safety Area, which it must finish by October 2011 to retain international flights.

Airport chief executive Steve Sanderson said yesterday the preferred choice for fill, the Shotover Delta, was being delayed by Environment Court action, leaving the airport needing a new source of fill fast.

"There was a certain amount of risk for us making that deadline," he said.

"Over the last six months we've been working with Remarkables Park to secure alternative fill."

Remarkables Park received consent to subdivide 119ha of development land on Thursday, which included the right to cart earth next door to the build the area.

Director Alastair Porter said getting the area built quickly was important because it meant construction of the Eastern Arterial Rd could begin, a vital link between sites of future growth on either side of the airport.

"We are very keen to get that road in as well," he said.

He was not charging the airport for the fill, he said.

"We just all figured it was a good solution."

It was also welcome news for George Wilson, whose Environment Court appeal has been holding up gravel extraction from the Shotover Delta.

"That's great news because it gives them less impetuous to extract from the delta," he said.

Mr Wilson has objected to the Otago Regional Council's plans to alter the delta to mitigate flooding, which would have included allowing the airport to extract gravel.

But Mr Sanderson said the airport would still fight for the right to extract gravel from the Delta, switching supplies mid-construction if it was successful.

Construction will begin next month.

FACTBOX

Runway End Safety Area

What: A platform protruding out of the western bank of the Shotover River, providing a stretch for aircraft to come to a stop in an emergency.

How big: 90m long from the end on runway, 45m above the delta, build out of 76,000 cubic metres of fill.

Cost of construction: $5 million Cost of fill: free but worth about $7 million

Deadline: Civil Aviation Authority requires the area to be built by October 2011 for the airport to retain international flights.

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