Coun­cil to study air­port ex­pan­sion’s growth ben­e­fits

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A De­niliquin air­port ex­pan­sion could sup­port more than just an air freight hub ser­vice.

The in­stal­la­tion of a longer run­way could also as­sist in grow­ing ex­ist­ing De­niliquin busi­nesses and lo­cal ven­tures, ac­cord­ing to Ed­ward River Coun­cil Mayor Norm Bren­nan.

He said all op­por­tu­ni­ties that could arise from such a de­vel­op­ment would be ex­plored in de­tail in a busi­ness case be­ing pre­pared for coun­cil.

Coun­cil has se­lected lead­ing pro­fes­sional ser­vices firm KPMG to pre­pare a study on the fea­si­bil­ity of an air­port run­way ex­ten­sion and the de­vel­op­ment of an air freight ser­vice at De­niliquin.

Cr Bren­nan said the im­prove­ments it could pro­vide to ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing part­ner­ships pre­vi­ously forged by the coun­cil would also be fur­ther in­ves­ti­gated.

‘‘Ausway Ed­u­ca­tion Pty Ltd al­ready runs an air train­ing school from De­niliquin air­port when con­di­tions at its Bal­larat base are not suit­able,’’ Cr Bren­nan said.

‘‘They have a lot of trou­ble find­ing and train­ing pi­lots in China, and this run­way ex­ten­sion could in­clude an ex­pan­sion of that train­ing school in De­niliquin.

‘‘There’s also the po­ten­tial this air­port de­vel­op­ment could link into Ausway’s plans for an ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­ity at the Mur­ray Val­ley In­dus­try Park lo­cated to De­niliquin’s north.’’

Cr Bren­nan said the busi­ness case would pro­vide coun­cil with a greater un­der­stand­ing of the air­port project’s fea­si­bil­ity and iden­tify po­ten­tial av­enues to at­tract ex­ter­nal fund­ing to de­liver the pro­posed run­way up­grade.

‘‘While coun­cil has pre­vi­ously pre­pared a busi­ness case, our fail­ure to ob­tain fund­ing through the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Build­ing Bet­ter Re­gions Fund ear­lier this year has high­lighted the im­por­tance of de­vel­op­ing a more ro­bust busi­ness case, cov­er­ing a broader ge­o­graphic foot­print, to de­ter­mine the fea­si­bil­ity of this project,’’ Cr Bren­nan said.

‘‘The De­niliquin air­port is a great as­set for our com­mu­nity and one that has ex­tra­or­di­nary po­ten­tial, par­tic­u­larly as coun­cil con­tin­ues to de­velop strong pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships with in­vestors from China.

‘‘Coun­cil has pro­vided a very de­tailed brief to KPMG and we will be look­ing to de­velop a busi­ness case that con­sid­ers a range of fac­tors, such as the vol­ume of agri­cul­tural pro­duce re­quired to make this project vi­able, as well as the project’s whole-of-life costs, to en­sure that we can make in­formed de­ci­sions on this project mov­ing for­ward.’’

Cr Bren­nan said KPMG’s ser­vices were highly rec­om­mended by for­mer lo­cal Rob­bie Sefton, an ex­pert in me­dia re­la­tions and stake­holder en­gage­ment, who has pre­vi­ously pledged her sup­port.

KPMG has also pre­vi­ously worked with lo­cal coun­cils on a num­ber of projects, in­clud­ing de­tailed re­ports in the pre-lo­cal gov­ern­ment amal­ga­ma­tion phase.

De­niliquin’s pro­posed air freight hub would de­liver re­gional pro­duce from De­niliquin Air­port to Asian mar­kets, through a part­ner­ship with the Wag­ner Group.

Coun­cil signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing in 2016 with Wag­n­ers, which de­liv­ers into Asian mar­kets from Toowoomba’s Bris­bane West Well­camp Air­port.

Coun­cil is seek­ing a fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment of at least $10 mil­lion of the an­tic­i­pated $15 mil­lion de­vel­op­ment in gov­ern­ment grants or pri­vate in­vest­ment to es­tab­lish a re­gional air freight hub in De­niliquin.

The bulk of the funds — about $11.5m — is re­quired to build a 2km run­way to sup­port the ser­vice.

Cr Bren­nan said the plans for the project ‘‘tick so many of the NSW Premier’s 12 pri­or­i­ties’’, which he be­lieves could in­crease the chances of gain­ing NSW Gov­ern­ment sup­port.

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