Central Coast Aero Club will have an opportunity to present its concerns about operations at the airport at Warnervale when Council organises an urgent meeting with the NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes.
Central Coast Council voted on Monday night to fast track discussions with the aero club about renewal of its licence agreement and that the Mayor seek an urgent meeting with the Minister to discuss the limits placed on operations at the airport because of the Warnervale Airport Restrictions (WAR) Act 1996.
The delegation to the Minister will include representatives from the aero club, the Youth Air League, Emergeny Services and senior council officers.
Aero club CEO, Andrew Smith, said “this is the first positive news for some time, to have discussions about renewal of the club’s licence agreement, and a meeting with the Minister about the Act.
“That’s quite heartening, and hopefully the meetings will be sooner rather than later,” he said.
“We will be asking for a complete repeal of the Act but, at the very least, we will be seeking changes to the Act so the operations of light aircraft and emergency services aircraft that are now using the airport are not affected.”
Smith said there was still safety risks to be considered, involving the trimming of trees around the runway and affecting the safe landing and takeoff at the runway.
He addressed council in the public forum, saying he was primarily concerned about two things – “the ability to continue operating as we have done quietly and in harmony with the community for the past 47 years, and to so in a safe manner, ensuring the safety of pilots, crew, staff, students and the community”.
He was speaking in favour of a motion by Cr Best to overturn a previous council decision calling for a report on the process and cost to revegetate a cleared area and restrict tree and vegetation trimming.
Another speaker, Anthony Moore, on behalf of the pilots and student pilots, put it quite simply, that there needs to be a balance between environmental outcomes and safety.
Executive Director of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Ben Morgan, spoke passionately in the public forum and told council that his organisation, representing many aviation groups, was “happy to work with council to come up with a viable solution”.
“A key issue is that it is abundantly clear there has been little or no consultation with the aviation industry and this is deeply troubling,” he said.
“This council has an immediate and unambiguous responsibility and duty of care to ensure that the safety of that airport is maintained to the highest standard.”
Council decided at its meeting to engage an external specialist to undertake an up-to-date survey and analysis of the Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) at the southern and northern ends of the runway.
OLS refers to any object that extends above a height of 110m above local ground level and must be assessed by CASA to determine whether it is an obstacle to aircraft operations.
Council will start environmental studies required for approval to manage the tree heights on the northern and southern ends of the runway and the appropriate application will be made to reduce and maintain the height of the trees at the southern end.
Meeting, Aug 12
Central Coast Council