Whenuapai Airport won't fly

Friday, 6 September 2019

Former North Shore City Mayor Andrew Williams says the latest suggestion of Whenuapai Air Force base becoming a commercial airport won't fly.

"It didn't get off the ground 10 years ago when I was mayor of North Shore City and it will not fly this time round either. We went through all this ad nauseum a decade ago and comprehensively proved that a commercial airport at Whenuapai was an unacceptable proposition for North Shore residents. What I said then still applies, in fact even more so now with the huge increase in housing in the north-west sector of Auckland surrounding Whenuapai Air Force base.

"My concerns have always been echoed by large numbers of citizens across the North Shore, particularly those affected in Greenhithe and the East Coast Bays under the flight path, that any commercial airport operation would have significant adverse environmental effects on their neighbourhoods." says Andrew Williams. "Potentially there could have been constant flights from dawn till midnight, seven days a week, creating noise and airline fuel pollution for our residents, and safety risks for tens of thousands of people in the flight path. The impact on North Shore's beautiful environment would have been immense".

"I was also most concerned about the impact on the great many schools in the flight path such as Rangitoto College, Pinehurst School, Kristin School, Albany Junior and Senior High Schools, Upper Harbour Primary and Greenhithe School. International research shows that schools under an airport flight path can be adversely affected by the constant overhead noise. Fortunately with the air force operations this is only very occasionally and is manageable. This would not be the case with a commercial airport".

"When I was mayor I was also mindful of the need for greatly improved access to Auckland International Airport. North Shore City Council secured significant improvements including the Northern Express Flyer airport service (now SkyBus) and airport shuttle vans being permitted on the Northern Busway. We also lobbied to get the western-link motorway and tunnel completed to provide seamless motorway access to Auckland airport."

"Ten years ago we were also well down the 'track' towards plans for another cross harbour link, having determined the route and concept for tunnels, which would include electric rail services from North Shore City through the Auckland CBD and ultimately on out to Auckland Airport and other areas of the region. This needs to be pushed along as the harbour bridge will reach maximum capacity by 2030."

"My vision was and still is to see rail services running from the North Shore busway, through the Auckland CBD/CRL and on out to the airport. Puhinui Station is only 7.5kms from the airport and being farmland it would be a simple solution to providing heavy rail all the way. An efficient integrated roading and public transport system will ensure our regional and international airport is well connected, and this is the answer...not Whenuapai." says the former mayor.