About 150 people attended a fiery public meeting hosted by Southland's development and tourism agency to highlight its plans to build a satellite ground station in Ruakākā.
The meeting, at the Ruakākā Recreation Centre last night,
began with Great South chief executive Graham Budd giving a presentation about their plan before locals were allowed to ask questions — and there were many.
Great South wants to build the satellite ground station with more than a dozen dishes on Sandford Rd in Ruakākā next to State Highway 1.
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If it goes ahead, it will complement a similar satellite farm near Invercargill and be used to communicate, control and monitor spacecraft as far as 2400km away.
Concerned residents didn't believe Great South had adequately communicated its plans to the community. Some had received flyers in letter boxes and others learned through neighbours or on social media.
The plan emerged after One Tree Pt-based truck and digger driver Brian Nash agreed to sell 9ha for the satellite station.
Great South has yet to apply to the Whangārei District Council for a resource consent.
Great South claims the proposed ground station would diversify existing economic activities in Northland, create jobs for local businesses through construction and maintenance, and provide educational opportunities for students via tours, and high-speed broadband connectivity for the whole region.
But Sandford Rd residents locals don't want the satellite ground station in their backyard as they believe it was not a suitable site for the dishes, given their close proximity to a state highway and the local school.