Kaiapoi and Aircraft Noise

So What’s This About Kaiapoi and Aircraft Noise?


The Urban Development Strategy 2007


Last year, the Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn Councils, along with Environment Canterbury and Transit New Zealand, completed an Urban Development Strategy.  This set out objectives for growth for the next thirty years in the target area. 


In general terms, it aims at more intensive housing in the centre of Christchurch with medium-level growth on the edges of the city and the surrounding townships.  Growth on the edges is known as “greenfields” development.


For Waimakariri, the area covered is east of about Two Chain Road, which runs between Fernside and Swannanoa, and south of the Ashley River.  It therefore takes in Kaiapoi, Rangiora, Pegasus and Woodend.


To give the Strategy “bite”, it is now being written into ECan’s Regional Policy Statement (RPS) in what is known as Change No. 1. The Regional Policy Statement covers a whole lot of matters and the District Plans of all ten councils in Canterbury have to give effect to it.  Currently, ECan has received a whole swag of submissions and is soon to hold hearings on Change No.1 before it finally adopts it.


As far as Waimakariri is concerned, the Urban Development Strategy allows for quite a lot of growth around and in the four towns by setting population limits for the next thirty years. It proposes directions for growth for Rangiora both east and west, and allows for the maximum planned size of Pegasus.  The directions of growth and urban limits of Kaiapoi and Woodend were left undecided to allow the Waimakariri Council to do further work on them.


Not long ago, the Waimakariri decided that the directions for growth in Woodend were to be both to the north and to the east & south-east.  This decision is not final because ECan will have to consider submissions to Change No.1, and some of these are about Woodend.


The Issue Over Kaiapoi


One of the objectives of planning around Christchurch Airport, for Ecan and all three affected councils, is to ensure that the airport is protected against future complaints over noise.  It has been accepted that the airport is vital to the region’s economy and that it would be highly undesirable for its operations to be curtailed, e.g. by banning flying at night.


The measure being proposed is that new greenfields development not be allowed under a 50dBa noise contour – in other words, where the noise is worse than 50 dBa, it is likely to start generating complaints as aircraft numbers increase.  This contour goes out over Kaiapoi and past it to the north – and relates to aircraft coming in to land in southerly wind conditions.  Changing the direction of approach is not practicable from an air-traffic control point of view.


A number of objections have been raised about this. They include:

  •  Kaiapoi people are not, in general, complaining about the noise now.  Why would they in the future?
  •  Other airports use a 55dBa standard.  If that were the standard for Christchurch, the contour on the map wouldn’t affect Kaiapoi at all.
  •  The obvious directions for growth, e.g. north up Williams Street, are at the extreme edges of the 50dBa area, and therefore less affected than areas closer to the airport.
  •  Why would you be allowed to build a new house in the middle of Kaiapoi but not on the edge?
  •  Why can’t we rely on building standards that minimise noise, e.g. double-glazing?

And that is where it stands!


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