Opponents of proposed Central Otago international airport take fight to Parliament with petition

Opponents of a proposed international airport in the heart of Central Otago have taken their fight to Parliament with a petition.

It comes on the back of a survey that found Tarras locals overwhelmingly reject the idea.

A stretch of farmland between Hawea and Tarras just moved one step closer to becoming an international airport.

Developer Christchurch Airport says the site can support a runway for large jets from overseas - a concept many locals are struggling with.

Stop Central Otago Airport spokeswoman Zella Downing says "There's an outside agency coming in with an idea that will drastically affect our lives".

The site assessment also looked at runway alignments - one option would go over the Lindis Valley and Lake Dunstan, and the other over Lake Hawea.

There are fears over the impact on the environment.

"It's an enchanting place," Downing says. "When you commercialise it you lose the enchantment. It will be destroyed."

John Harris, from Maori Point Wines, also notes that the proposed airport site sits alongside the Bendigo Wetlands.

"Those Bendigo wetlands extend into the border of the Bendigo Conservation reserve, and that's the home of a number of critically endangered bird species."

A survey of 103 locals released this week by community group Sustainable Tarras showed 83 percent against the airport.

But fourth-generation Tarras farmer Jonny Trevathan says that doesn't represent everyone's views.

"A lot of them have made their money elsewhere then moved to Tarras in the last 15 years, and they moved to Tarras because we are a nice small quiet little place and I don't believe they want to see change."

The proposed runway is right across John Harris' boundary. He and his wife have planted their land with natives and imagined living out their days here, but probably won’t stay if the airport goes ahead.

But Harris says "I can't think of anywhere else I would like to be other than right here".

Planning of the Tarras airport is expected to be finished in two years with construction starting in 2027. 

Harris jokes that he might not be around by then but he's not giving up the fight.