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Threat to airport from watersport lake overstated – CCC manager says

14 July 2003

Concerns about Christchurch International Airport safety being compromised by a proposed passive watersport lake are being overdone, says Alistair Graham, the City Council ’s Leisure Unit manager.

The City Council tomorrow (Tuesday, 15 July) meets to finalise its Annual Plan for 2003/04. The recommendations before it include indicative funding of $12.4m in 2004/05 and 2005/06 to build a lake north-west of airport for use by rowers, kayakers and other passive watersports. The proposed lake would be 1.5km from the main airport runway but not in direct line with it.

If passed, the proposal would require more investigation and full public consultation before the Council fully committed to it.

Mr Graham says many major airports are close to large bodies of water and operate successfully and safely. What is needed, he says, is all parties working together to find out what, if any, risks there are and combining to reduce or eliminate them. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure any development minimises any risks.

“ We seem to have a lot of worrying about what might happen before we’ve really even looked at what the actual threat might be and, if we find there could be a problem, what could be done to fix it,” Mr Graham says.

“ The Council itself contributes to the issue, with large bodies of water at The Groynes and Styx reserves and the Burwood landfill site is a recognised feeding ground for some birds. The Waimakariri River is also a factor because it’s a breeding ground for black winged gulls.

“ What needs to happen is for the Council to work with Environment Canterbury and the airport company and the trustees of the lake proposal to make sure that appropriate steps are taken to reduce any risk,” he says.

Christchurch International Airport Ltd and the trust behind the Lake Isaac Watersports Park had already commissioned a preliminary bird hazard assessment report from Australian consultants Eco-Sure. “Its finding is that the risk will not increase if appropriate mitigation measures are put in place,” Mr Graham says.

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