Northlanders opposing rescue helicopter move go to High Court & More Trending News

 

Onerahi residents opposed to shifting Northland’s rescue helicopter base from Kensington to Whangārei airport have gone to the High Court.

Northland's emergency rescue helicopter base in Kensington Whangārei.

By Local Demoracy Reporter Susan Botting

Opposition group Save Onerahi from Undue Noise Disturbance (SOUND) is in search of to get the service’s Whangārei District Council Onerahi airport lease quashed.

SOUND is in search of a courtroom order that Whangārei District Council (WDC) acted unlawfully in making its 2021 and 2022 selections to lease Onerahi airport land to Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST) to use as the bottom for its Te Tai Tokerau-wide operations. The service is at the moment working out of Whangārei’s Kensington.

SOUND has filed judicial evaluation proceedings within the Whangārei High Court in opposition to Whangārei District Council (WDC) and NEST.

It needs the council’s 2021 and 2022 selections (SUBS: right, plural) to lease Onerahi airport land to NEST quashed.

Onerahi-based SOUND filed proceedings within the High Court in Whangārei beneath the Judicial Review Procedure Act 2016 on September 19, with an amended declare on October 14.

WDC and NEST in reply filed their statements of defence in Whangārei’s High Court on November 4.

SOUND additionally needs the courtroom to order that WDC considers any proposal to relocate NEST operations to the airport in accordance with legislation and any courtroom instructions.

SOUND stated in its amended assertion of declare that WDC’s selections in 2021 and once more this 12 months, to lease airport land to NEST had been selections “…no reasonable decision maker could have made…”

Local Democracy Reporting Northland sought WDC’s assertion of defence, however this was not supplied.

WDC normal supervisor planning and improvement, Dominic Kula stated WDC could be defending its decision-making.

“While it is regrettable these matters are now before the court, council believes its decision-making processes have been robust. Council respects that the court process is now underway, and in the interests of preserving the parties’ rights to a fair hearing, will not be commenting further on these matters,” he stated.

WDC could be submitting proof and authorized submissions in assist of the place it had taken in its assertion of defence,” Kula said

He declined to comment further in response to specific matters raised by SOUND in its statement of claim.

SOUND said WDC councillors deciding on the airport lease had not had the airport noise production information necessary to doing so. They therefore did not understand the existing airport activity noise, the total extra noise that would be added to this through the addition of NEST’s helicopter operations nor the cumulative effects of that addition.

“It was not attainable for the council to decide whether or not the NEST exercise may very well be accommodated on the airport in a fashion that may adjust to the necessities of the District Plan relating to noise emissions,” SOUND said.

Local Democracy Reporting Northland also sought NEST’s statement of defence, but it was not provided.

NEST chief executive Craig Gibbons said doing so was not appropriate.

“On the idea there’s a courtroom case underway, it’s not acceptable to launch associated documentation – nor will we intend to play this out in public,” Gibbons stated.

“Our focus stays firmly on faithfully serving our strongly supportive group and offering a excessive degree of care to folks in Northland 24/7.”

SOUND said there had been no current-level NEST helicopter noise airport activity monitoring done, meaning councillors were not able to assess whether there were any noise compliance issues before adding extra noise from the Kensington helicopter base shift into the Onerahi airport noise production budget mix.

It said the lease decision makers could not have considered the consequences of relocating NEST to the airport.

These included other airport activity potentially being required to be displaced to accommodate NEST activity without breaching the District Plan or the original WDC-55 land use designation specifying the land’s usage purpose as an airport.

SOUND’s statement of claim says WDC failed, as required under the Local Government Act (LGA), to consult the Onerahi community before it decided to lease the airport land to NEST. It had also failed to comply with the airport noise management plan.

SOUND is also seeking a High Court declaration that WDC has a duty under the Resource Management Act (RMA)’s section 16 to avoid emissions of unreasonable noise levels at the airport plus a duty under the same Act’s section 17 to avoid remedy or mitigate the effects of the airport’s current and future activities. It also wants the declaration to require compliance with specific rules around engine testing and noise from aircraft operations in the airport’s original WDC-55 land use designation and District Plan.

SOUND’s statement of claim outlines a number of changes to underpinning council planning documents over the last about 20 years that it says have negatively impacted the residential community surrounding the airport. These include to District Plan updates, changes to prevailing RMA airport land use designations and the airport noise management plan. It has also included the airport noise management committee in this realm.

Among these were changes from previously when all helicopter noise production, other than the helicopter emergency rescue flights, having to comply with noise emission controls to today all emergency helicopter activity at the airport being exempt from having to comply with noise emission controls.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

Northlanders opposing rescue helicopter move go to High Court

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Northlanders opposing rescue helicopter move go to High Court

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Northlanders opposing rescue helicopter move go to High Court

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