New Airport Plan goes back to Court

Queenstown Airport's "nationally significant" expansion plans have been blocked by the High Court after an earlier Environment Court battle.

The Queenstown Airport Corporation has been engaged in a legal battle over undeveloped land that the airport says is critical to the long-term expansion of the aerodrome, the fastest-growing in New Zealand.

The land - owned by Porter family business Remarkables Park Ltd - was subject to a notice of requirement and labelled a nationally significant proposal by Environment Minister Amy Adams in 2011.

However, Remarkables Park opposed the bid for "priceless" land and argued other land near the airport was suitable for expansion, namely taxiways and hangars for light aircraft and helicopters.

With additional land, the airport proposed that general aviation move north of the runway, but Queenstown Lakes District Council, RPL and Air New Zealand objected.

The court decision by Justice Christian Whata in the Invercargill High Court directed the case back to the Environment Court to reconsider aspects of its interim judgment.

He said the court erred regarding considerations of a separation distance between a main runway strip and taxiway, failed to correctly assess RPL claims or allow an opportunity to address "scarcity of industrial land".

An interim decision last year directed amendments to the notice of requirement.

Judge Whata directed the court to reconsider whether the notice of requirement should be cancelled or modified in relation to runway separations and the assessment of alternatives.

Remarkables Park director Alastair Porter said: "We're very happy with the direction of the High Court."

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