Author: Scott Palmer

Defence Minister Ron Mark has used his power to overrule an Environment Court decision imposing noise restrictions on Auckland's Whenuapai airbase

Mark said the issue was a matter of "national security", as the court's decision could impact the military's use of the site.

"Make no mistake this is a last resort. This power should only be used when absolutely necessary," Mark said on Tuesday.

Last month the Environment Court ruled in favour of developer Neil Construction Ltd, which sought a declaration that the airbase had to comply with noise restrictions during the late-night testing of aircraft engines.

Neil Group chief executive Phil Ainsworth said that the engine testing noise could be reduced by moving the testing closer to the centre of the base.

However, Mark said this wasn't practical and has used his special powers to trump the Environment Court and exempt Whenuapai from the noise rules.

"Undertaking engine testing and pre-flight tests is an integral part of the maintenance and operation of aircraft at Whenuapai and therefore is necessary for reasons of national security," he said.

"The aircraft concerned are based at Whenuapai and maintained there. If they are defective, you cannot fly them to another base to perform repairs and test them. This situation is dangerous and I will not put aircrew or public safety at risk."

Mark says anyone moving into the area should accept military aircraft noise.

"I make no apology for issuing this certificate and advise anyone who is thinking of purchasing a home near Whenuapai, that you are moving into an area where a military airbase has operated since World War II," he said.

"There will continue to be noise generated by military aircraft and you need to accept that."

Article: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/10/defence-minister-ron-mark-overrules-environment-court-on-whenuapai-airbase-noise-restrictions.html
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