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Float plane plan for Queenstown

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Pilot Brent Collins has lodged plans with Lakes Environmental that could result in a thoroughly refurbished 1950s era, seven-seater (plus pilot) De Havilland Beaver and a modern Cessna float plane offering flightseeing and transfers on Lakes Wakatipu, Wanaka and Hawea by summers' end.

The float planes are to be moored near the Queenstown Gardens and passengers transferred by water taxi from the Convelle wharf at Earnslaw Park. From the mooring, a plane will taxi (less noise than a jetboat in the bay) to its 'air strip' located at least 1.2km from the mooring, which is more than 800m south of the tip of the Garden's peninsula from where it will take off and land. There will be a similar 'strip' located at Glenorchy, again located suitably far off shore to prevent any noise issues. Also applied for are occasional landings and takeoffs on Lake Wanaka and Hawea and in Frankton Arm.

Mr. Collins acknowledged a group had formed to oppose the operation but asked that people consider the application carefully.

"Float planes are part of alpine and lake tourism environments the world over and add something pretty special to a waterfront and to the visitor experience," he said. "I would ask that people read the application thoroughly because we've put a lot of work in to ensure our activity adds to the vibrancy of the waterfront without causing disruption or congestion."

While there is no float plane currently operating on Lake Wakatipu, the proposed mooring near the Gardens used to be home to a tourist float plane while another has operated from the Frankton beach area.

The project has been nearly 3 years in the planning and there has been consultation with many people, including identified affected parties. Mr Collins has worked to mitigate all concerns that have arisen.

"Generally, people are supportive. The feeling is that a float plane has something to add to the Bay. Especially an historic plane with potential for future links to other historic transport such as TSS Earnslaw and Kingston Flyer. However, we do understand people's primary concern is about potential noise levels. We believe this could only present an issue for 20 - 25 seconds during take-off which we have fully mitigated by locating our take off area more than a kilometre from town. I strongly believe these planes are well suited to this environment in terms of noise and that people will not be adversely affected," he said.

The noise generated by the float planes is within the guidelines of the district plan and flight plans do not take planes over the town or populated areas.

"We are very happy to discuss our application with people and ask that they get in touch with their concerns. We have established a facebook page where we hope we can help answer questions for people if they'd rather not get in touch directly."

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