Waiheke helicopter pad rush causes alarm

Two new Waiheke Island helicopter landing and takeoff pad applications have been lodged with Auckland Council in what one opponent says is a rush of new activity.

Auckland Council has received consent applications from consultants employed by the owners of 48 Korora Rd near Oneroa and the more remote 380a Cowes Bay Rd.

Mike Sweeney of anti-helicopter lobby group Quiet Sky Waiheke said these were in addition to applications from the owners of 345 Gordons Rd near Kennedy Point and the Obsidian vineyard.

Sweeney wrote to the Waiheke Local Board raising alarm.

“The rush is doubtless based on the belief that the council can still be persuaded to judge consents on the narrow restricted discretionary grounds,” Sweeney said referring to a section of the Resource Management Act.

“How much damage will be inflicted on Waiheke in the interim?How many more residents will suffer?” Sweeney asked the local board.

Wendy Baverstock of Isle Land Planning applied for the Korora Rd pad on behalf of owner Craig Greenwood.

That property of around 4ha, “occupied by an established dwelling located near cliffs descending to Oneroa Bay and surrounded by various landscaped outdoor amenity areas.

“The applicant proposes to use an existing suitably level and grassed outdoor amenity area close to the dwelling as a helipad for private helicopter transport operations.

“Establishment of the proposed helipad would not require any earthworks, construction of structures/buildings, or other physical works. Consequently, the application is primarily limited to consideration of potential helicopter noise effects,” Baverstock’s application said.

In the second new application, Isle Land Planning also applied for a pad on behalf of Mark Wheeler and Deborah Simpson who own the 6.8ha property at 380a Cowes Bay Rd.

Their property is a large unoccupied, bush-clad site above Awakiriapa Bay, crossed by formed tracks that provide access to adjacent occupied sites.

Up to 12 single-engine helicopter flights are proposed over a three-day rolling average.

The two new applications follow two others lodged in the last few weeks.

CHS Vineyard, which owns and operates the Obsidian vineyard between Palm Beach and Onetangi, wants to build a helipad to fly in visitors and tourists and its planner has proposed restrictions to limit effects.

The local board has weighed in there.

“The helicopter pad is very close to the adjoining properties and the noise and downdraft of landings and takeoffs will seriously affect the quality of life of the residents whose properties adjoin or are near to this site,” the board said.

Last month, the Herald reported how British-based Michelle Bartlett has sought Auckland Council consent for a landing pad at the 5.7ha property she is listed as owning at 345 Gordons Rd between Kauaroa Bay and Kaikuku Bay on a peninsula looking across to Maraetai.

Baverstock lodged the application for the helicopter landing and take-off platform, saying the site is on the southern shores on an area of land separating Rocky Bay from Awaawaroa Bay, on a rocky coastal headland area with Kauaroa Bay around 400m to the west across a neighbouring farm and near Kaikuku and Woodside bays.

The land is 600m from the Whakanewha Regional Park and Baverstock referred to it as “a comparatively remote rural site”. No disturbance of land was proposed or any earthworks. No buildings would be erected. There was no known cultural or heritage features on or near the site. Traffic generation would not be materially affected.’

Westmere’s Ali Williams and Anna Mowbray also want a helicopter landing and takeoff pad at their home.

Mark Benjamin, principal planner at town planning and resource consent specialists Mt Hobson Group said the couple wanted to develop a take-off and landing helicopter pad at their residential property.

An acoustic assessment prepared by Hegley Acoustic Consultants and effects on the environment and statutory assessment were included in the application.

But Chris Darby, a councillor and Planning Committee chairperson, asked why the couple didn’t go to Mechanics Bay if they wanted to use helicopters.

It was only about 10 minutes away and had all the facilities already there, Darby said.

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