Tokoroa Airfield debate drones on
A war of words has broken out over drone advocate Bruce Simpson’s continued push to see the Tokoroa Airfield delisted.
Simpson spoke during the South Waikato District Council’s open public forum on Thursday and got into a heated exchange with councillor Gray Baldwin who questioned his credibility.
The presentation began with Simpson talking about his desire to lease the airfield for three months over summer for a ‘‘string of events’’. He claimed one would contribute $105,000 towards the local economy.
But in order to do so he wants the airfield delisted to remove the substantial cost of obtaining Civil Aviation Authority certification for drone operators.
‘‘If 300 people come to this event and they all spend $50 a day and they are here for seven days, that’s $105,000 going into the local economy,’’ he said.
‘‘These people are coming from Australia, the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland and include people from NASA and some big names from within the drone industry which is a great opportunity to introduce our town to people within these industries,’’ he said.
Simpson said he was a ‘‘leading figurehead in the drone community’’ and hoped the council would give some weight to what he was claiming.
‘‘No one in the council has ever given me one reason why delisting the airfield would be a negative thing. I challenge someone to do that,’’ he said.
At that councillor Baldwin let loose.
‘‘Mr Simpson I do not believe one single iota of any of your statistics about Facebook and all of that other stuff,’’ he said.
‘‘You come to council with intimidating behaviour. My question is are you prepared to provide the council with the database of all your alleged friends who want to use our airfield and furthermore are you prepared to put money where your mouth is and place a decent deposit of at least a six figure sum in order for us to be confident that the numbers are there?’’
Simpson was taken aback by the outburst.
‘‘I have discussed it with the council but every time I bring money to the table the people who offer it are called liars. This is unreasonable,’’ he said.
Communications manager Kerry Fabrie said the council has provided Simpson on numerous occasions with reasoning for not delisting.