Locals unhappy with Maribor airport expansion plans
Simona Marko of the Miklavž Civil Initiative who came to attend the presentation before the event was cancelled said that the locals were concerned because they were not included in any way in the plans being made for the airport.
The government is currently working on a zoning plan that would allow the expansion and which the initiative believes will allow severe environmental effects of noise and gas emissions.
After signing a 15-year lease on the airport with the government last year, SHS Aviation announced it would invest about EUR 660m to extend the runway, build passenger terminals, hotels, a shopping centre and an aircraft dismantling facility.
SHS Aviation also wants to establish 11 regular routes from Maribor, including to China. This would be a significant increase over the current single regular route.
"This area already suffers extreme negative environmental effects. Some days schools and kindergartens are advised to keep the children indoors," said Marko.
She expressed concern about what will happen after Magna Steyr launches operations at its nearby paint shop "and now there are plans to expand the airport". "This is alarming and we need to make it clear that we will not allow it."
Marko said the initiative was not against development of the region, the main argument in favour of the expansion promoted by the Maribor Municipality. The initiative believes that the existent infrastructure is enough to cater to the region's development needs.
Despite the uproar it is unclear how far the plans have been developed, as SHS Aviation boss Lingkun Meng cancelled today's presentation shortly before it was about to start.
Maribor Deputy Mayor Saša Pelko, who was surprised over the cancellation, said that the event was not cancelled because the arrival of the civil initiative.
He added that the cancellation also did not undermine the credibility of the investor. "The fact that the investor transfers each month EUR 100,000 to the state lends credibility to the story," he said.
Despite the eagerness of the local authorities, the fate of the plan is unclear, as the airport infrastructure is owned by the state and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek has likened the plan to a tenant renovating the apartment without telling the owner.