Nelson Airport Proposed Changes
On 10 June Nelson City Council advertised a Private Plan Change request (“PPC30”) from Nelson Airport Ltd. NCC called for submissions on the request; some 500 submissions were received before the 10 July deadline.
While we are very aware of the important regional benefits from growth of our Airport, if implemented the Plan Change will have a significant impact on Tāhuna Beach Holiday Park, and in fact would create a very uncertain future for the Holiday Park within the next decade.
We believe there are other options further requiring investigation, such as expanding south (over water) rather than north (over people). It is our hope and desire that both the Airport and the Holiday Park can continue to co-exist to the benefit of the region.
The following outlines our key concerns:
- Under PPC30 Nelson Airport Limited (NAL) is seeking alterations to its existing Designations to enable an extension to the north of the existing main runway. Designations under the Nelson Resource Management Plan permit the airport to undertake activities within the designated zones but also to impose restrictions on activities in defined neighbouring areas, which includes the majority of the Holiday Park.
- One of the proposed new Designations will allow Nelson Airport to extend its runway at the northern end, into land currently owned by the Nelson Golf Club. This will have a major impact on the Golf Club.
- NAL has stated that the extension is needed to cater for future zero emission aircraft that are expected to be heavier than existing aircraft and hence need longer runways. However, we have not been able to find substantiation of this and understand this is still speculation. NAL states that an expansion of the runway is likely to be 10 – 15 years away, but once designated, it could be earlier at the Airport’s option.
- The Airport has stated the proposed changes will not include jets using the Airport.
- NAL proposes new noise limit boundaries which will have the effect of restricting activities within those areas. Noise boundaries have moved to the north, coincident with the planned runway extension to the north.
- The new noise boundaries over the Holiday Park (the line in red) shows what is called the Airnoise Boundary (“ANB”). At the Holiday Park, a finger of land running from the Golf Rd/Parkers Rd intersection into the Holiday Park mainly across our residential village to the southern side of the Basic Cabins, is within the new ANB.
- Proposed rules for land within the ANB area will prohibit any camping or short-term living within that area once the planned runway extension is operational. No new buildings will be allowed within the ANB from the date the plan change is confirmed.
- Anyone living within the ANB is likely to experience “highly annoying” levels of airport noise.
- The diagram also shows what is called the Airport Effects Control Overlay (“AECO”) in yellow. This boundary covers almost all the rest of the Holiday Park’s 22 hectares.
- The AECO severely restricts improvements and replacement of existing buildings and prohibits new buildings from the date the plan change is confirmed, all of which will prevent TBHP from updating facilities or building new ones.
- Another consequence of PPC30 for the Holiday Park will be greater restrictions on landscaping and associated tree heights. At present we are unable to ascertain the implications of this restriction on existing and planned plantings.
- Anyone living in the AECO will potentially experience higher levels of noise than they do currently.
- As mitigation to the changes planned under PPC30, NAL shall offer to install acoustic insulation and ventilation to affected properties within residential zones. TBHP’s residents are excluded from this offer since they are not located in a Residential Zone, but within an Open Space Zone.
- It appears no consideration has been made of the 116 people who reside at the Holiday Park. Twenty-one sites are fully or partially inside the ANB so will have to move; eighty-seven more are within the AECO.
- Holiday Park management has been chasing resource consent for its residential village for at least two years. NCC, however, has not been able to grant resource consent, having created delays in processing the application.
- Oddly, some sites have the boundary line going through them and others are carefully drawn around. This might be interpreted as a laissez-faire attitude to people’s lives/emotions.
- While the newer aeroplane engines may be quieter, their turbo-propellers will still potentially emit a substantial volume of noise and there will be more flights, flying lower.
- We believe there is a failure to date to investigate fully the option of expanding South; the environmental report is, in our advisors’ views, inadequate vs the social cost of going north. We understand there may be scope to reduce these lengths for the class of aircraft that is intended to be flown into Nelson Airport. Our research shows that NAL hasn’t investigated this possibility to any large extent.
- There are other options. A significant part of the runway extension is due to the 240m the Airport has allowed for the Runway End Safety Area (RESA) at each end. We understand this is more than is necessary for the class of aircraft that is intended to be flown into Nelson Airport.
- We also believe NAL has not investigated thoroughly the possibility of implementing an Engineered Material Arresting system (EMAS) which has been implemented at Queenstown Airport – and hundreds of airports internationally. EMAS would substantially reduce the length of the RESA and therefore the runway extension, and in fact may mean a runway extension is not required at all.
- We have had many people say, ‘at least it’s not for 10-15 years.’ But we note that the new noise regulations come in from the day the plan becomes operative and to intended route might happen even before 10 years out. NAL has not given a lucid explanation why new noise contours need to come into effect before any runway expansion occurs. If the runway hasn’t shifted north why do the noise contours need to shift north?
- We have sought legal advice and are engaging a noise specialist.
- We believe there are enough conflicts of interest round Nelson City Council running the process for us to skip that stage and Nelson City Council seek that the Minister refer the application direct to the Environmental Court.
- Participating in this process is using precious resources that we obviously would prefer to be investing in the Holiday Park.
In summary, if adopted, the proposed changes will:
- Place severe restrictions on our ability to develop the Holiday Park including via renovations.
- Remove the option of building new buildings and require NAL approval for anything in the AECO.
- Potentially close or heavily restrict the areas where we can have holidaymakers, sporting and other recreational groups, tourers and workers residing.
- Subject Holiday Park visitors and guests to higher levels of noise, while existing noise levels already feature in our negative feedback.
- Diminish everyone’s experience of being at the Holiday Park, as well as badly affect our reputation, reducing the Park’s financial long-term viability.
To read the full NAL report click here. Submissions are scheduled to be heard in December 2023.