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Noise contours … The proposed 65-decibel noise contour is shown in orange; the larger 55-decibel contour in green.

By DAVID HILL

Noise contours are proposed for around Rangiora’s airfield in a bid to secure its future, with residential restrictions possible in areas exposed to the greatest levels.

A proposed plan designation change looks to impose 65 decibel (dBA) and 55dBA contours around the 70-year-old airfield.

Chief executive Jim Palmer acknowledges there will be implications for future development in the area surrounding the airfield.

He says there are a “couple of properties” that sit within the proposed 65dBA contour, while several residential properties lie within the 55dBA contour

“The proposed contours anticipate future growth in the same type of activity, but there are no plans to develop a commercial airport,” Mr Palmer stresses.

Mr Palmer says existing property owners will continue to have “use rights agreements”, but a designation change may have an impact on future property ownership or the development of new buildings.

While it is early in the process, restrictions may be imposed to require greater insulation in buildings to reduce the impact of aircraft noise, while there may be restrictions on “noise sensitive” or residential buildings within the 65dBA contour.

Councillors voted last week to have staff lodge a proposed plan and designation change.

Mr Palmer says that the airfield is recognised as a strategic asset in Environment Canterbury’s regional policy statement.

It has served the community for more than 70 years since it was established in the 1950s. It was used as a base to support activities after the November 2016 earthquakes and plays a vital role in “Canterbury’s broader resilience”.

“It’s an asset which needs to be protected for those reasons,” he says.

Mr Palmer says a considerable amount of work has gone into preparing the draft plan change, including meetings with property owners and the logging of activities at the airfield.

It is estimated there are 40,000 aircraft movements at the airfield annually.

Council regulation manager Nick Harrison says the planning team will assess the proposed designation change before making a recommendation to the council’s district plan and regulation committee “on whether to accept the application, reject it, or adopt it as a council plan change”.

If accepted, the plan change will be notified for public submissions.

“Those are then summarised and then further submissions are called where parties can agree or disagree with any matter raised in the first round of submissions.”

The submissions will be heard by an independent commissioner, who will make a final recommendation about the plan change to the council for approval.