Defence Minister Ron Mark has used his powers to overrule a noise complaint ruling against Whenuapai airbase on the grounds of "national security". The Environment Court last month released a ruling in favour of a private developer, declaring the Auckland airbase had to comply with noise restrictions when it performs late-night testing of aircraft engines.
This decision prompted Minister Mark to say urban sprawl was now perhaps a threat to the nation's safety and that there was no doubt the ruling could impact the military's use of the site.
"Undertaking engine testing and pre-flight tests is an integral part of the maintenance and operation of aircraft at Whenuapai and therefore is necessary for reasons of national security."
Minister Mark said he made no apologies, having already described the situation as “reverse NIMBYism”.
"I advise anyone who is thinking of purchasing a home near Whenuapai, that you are moving into an area where a military airbase has operated since World War II," the Minister said.
"There will continue to be noise generated by military aircraft and you need to accept that."
Minister Mark said the Defence Force had considered moving the testing, but found that the restrictions would be breached wherever it was moved.
"If this wasn't signed we would not be able to use Whenuapai to conduct aircraft operations. The only other option I have is to close the base and I cannot magic up a new base overnight," he said.