Unpopular plans to tighten rules
Local authorities in the southern districts seem to be focussing on ways to control all forms of aviation in their region.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is facing strong opposition from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) to a proposed restriction on the number of flights permitted by any aircraft from private airfields in the Queenstown District in general and the Wakatipu Basin in particular.
Under the current district plan, flights are unrestricted from what the plan refers to as “informal airports”. However, in its forthcoming new district plan the QLDC proposes new rules aimed at reducing noise problems for neighbouring residents.
The new rules would include a 500m setback from building platform boundaries, a measure severely condemned by the AOPA. Vance Boyd, an AOPA representative, attacked this proposal at a sitting of the district plan hearing committee in Queenstown last May.
He pointed out to the committee, chaired by commissioner Dennis Nugent, that up to 100ha of land could be required to comply with such a rule. This proposal has also attracted a number of submissions from private pilots opposing it.
An oral submission to the committee was also made by Queenstown commercial pilot Steven Bunn. He advised the hearing that the 500m setback appeared to be an arbitrary figure and that many existing airstrips within the council’s jurisdiction would not meet such a criterion. He also pointed out that there had been no noise complaints about aircraft on informal airfields, indicating that noise is currently not a problem.
The hearing continues and a report and recommendation will be made to the full QLDC.
This is not the only case of a local authority moving to tighten controls on aviation. The Southland District Council (SDC) is working on new rules for using drones. Under current CAA rules, drones can’t be flown more than 120m off the ground and within 4km of any aerodrome without special permission.
The SDC rules propose to take those regulations further, requiring people to obtain permission from the SDC to use a drone or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over a sports field when other people are using it, within 50m of any organised activity taking place in a reserve or on SDC-owned open space, or above cemeteries, SDC-owned roads, playgrounds or wildlife areas.
The hearings on this concluded in early June and the Hearings Panel is deliberating. The outcome will be released with the rest of the chapters, probably not until 2017.
- Report by John King.
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