Protect Wanaka takes legal action against Council and QAC
In a dramatic announcement today, Protect Wanaka says it will seek a judicial review of the way that the Queenstown Lakes District Council has managed our local airports.
At the centre of the lobby group's legal action is a claim that the QLDC has effectively handed control of the two local airports to the Queenstown Airport Corporation, in violation of the requirements of the Local Government Act.
The claim will also focus on what Protect Wanaka says is poor communication, a lack of consultation and a lack of transparency.
Protect Wanaka plans to file the judicial review action in the next few days but has expressed concern over the cost of the exercise that it hopes will be community backed.
"We are now having to raise funds from the community to take legal action against the Council - the very organisation which is meant to be working for us, not against us. The irony of this should not be lost on they Mayor or his team" Chairman Michael Ross says in today's statement.
Here is the full text of the letter sent to the QLDC, followed by a link to the full letters as sent to the Queenstown Airport Corporation.
The Mayor, Councillors and CEO Queenstown Lakes District Council Queenstown
(By email, individually)
Thursday 19th September 2019
Dear Mayor Boult, QLDC Councillors and Mr Theelan
Wānaka Airport – Judicial Review of QLDC’s and QAC’s actions and decisions
1) The recent public statements of QAC and QLDC coupled with QLDC’S failure or refusal to engage with us and to provide relevant assurances and key documents such as the “lease” and demonstrating that QLDC still has control over the future of Wānaka airport, now make judicial review proceedings inevitable.
2) As we have said before, the actions and decisions taken, and various agreements apparently reached between QLDC and QAC in relation to the Wānaka Airport (which we shall refer to as the "existing Wānaka Airport”) are unlawful, were illegal contracts and of no effect.
3) In summary, the decisions and agreements entered into between QLDC and QAC not only authorise QAC to manage the “existing Wānaka airport” but also amount – in substance – to QAC acquiring control of the airport by the mechanism of a privately negotiated 100 year lease - enabling QAC to then alter and develop Wānaka Airport into a new and materially different airport operation.
4) Accordingly, we write this letter to put you on notice that judicial review proceedings will be filed and served shortly. They will contend that:
a) In effectively handing over ownership and/or control of existing Wānaka airport to QAC by a 100 year “lease” (and, it would seem, various side agreements) following the so-called “consultation” QLDC carried out in 2016/2017, QLDC acted in breach of all or any of Sections 97 and/or 76, 77, 78, and 82 of the Local Government Act.
b) The result of such breaches is that any contracts entered into with QAC to transfer any ownership or control of Wā naka airport, including the “lease”, were unlawful, were illegal contracts and of no effect.
c) Additionally, the decisions of QLDC to enter into the “lease” and those side agreements were unreasonable and failed to take into account relevant matters and are judicially reviewable on those additional grounds.
5) In addition, the proceedings will contend that various related conduct and decisions by QAC were in breach of Sections 58(1) and 60, and Sections 59(1)(a) and 59(1)(c) of the Local Government Act.
6) The proceedings will seek appropriate declarations and other relief from the High Court as are needed to return existing Wānaka airport to the full public ownership and control of QLDC and to ensure that any moves to allow it to be developed, expanded and rebuilt so as to be capable of taking Code C jet aircraft operations are first subject to QLDC undertaking accurate and informed consultation fully compliant with the requirements of the Local Government Act.
7) Thus, the Wānaka Stakeholders Group will be issuing judicial review proceedings to establish the unlawfulness and unreasonableness of the relevant decisions and actions and therefore to:
a) prevent QLDC and QAC from formulating and acting upon any decisions to build and operate a “new Wānaka Airport”; and
b) require QLDC - if it wishes to dispose of any part of its 100% ownership and control of the “existing Wānaka airport” - to comply fully with all applicable prohibitions and consultation requirements of the Local Government Act.
The Committee, Wānaka Stakeholders Group Incorporated*
Per Michael Ross, Chair
Cc list: Wānaka Community Board members, CEO QAC
* WSG membership as at 09:20 Thursday 19/09/19 stands at 2,948 people.
Read the two full letters from Protect Wanaka to the Queenstown Airport Corporation below.