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Airport going green – Marlborough District Council

Marlborough Airport is on a sustainability journey, exploring greener options for the future.

“We’re looking at the airport through a lens of future sustainability, including its financial and environmental future – we already have some multi-year initiatives underway,” Marlborough Airport Operations and Safety Manager Steve Holtum said.

One of the most visible projects was the planting of more than 4,290 natives on a bund surrounding the new car park.

“The revenue from the car park will help us with financial sustainability, which not only means that ratepayers won’t be subsidising airport operations, but we’ll also have more potential funding for green projects in the future,” he said.

The bund was designed so contaminated soil, an environmental issue throughout the Woodbourne site, didn’t have to be taken off-site for disposal, but additional benefits are reduction in road noise and beautification.

The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions at any airport is from fuel. Airport staff are currently working with Air New Zealand to trial battery powered planes on the Blenheim-Wellington route. Blenheim/Wellington is on a shortlist with Auckland/Hamilton to trial next-generation planes and if the proposal is accepted, an electric plane could be flying freight to Wellington as early as 2026.

The airport is also exploring green options for the next runway reseal, which is due out for tender this year.

Mr Holtum said one of the challenges for Marlborough, as a small community, was the limited green infrastructure solutions.

“Options are available in other regions, such as using recycled asphalt or asphalt mixes requiring lower temperatures, therefore reducing emissions. But these solutions are taking time to reach Marlborough,” he said.

Other green initiatives include the monitoring of airport waste and greenhouse gas emissions at the airport.

Ongoing smaller initiatives include switching out apron light bulbs with LED lights (the big light towers) and formalising a more comprehensive sustainability strategy this year to embed into operations.

“This year we’re spending time understanding our biggest opportunities to make meaningful change,” Mr Holtum said. “We’ve been talking with other airports to understand what types of initiatives we can undertake for environmental sustainability.”

“Solar farming is also a possibility but the challenge for our airport is we only employ four full time operations staff, so we can’t do everything at once.”

The public can help by providing their views on the airport’s sustainability journey by completing a short survey, at https://links.marlborough.govt.nz/airportsustainability

The survey closes on 13 February.


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