Council to study airport expansion’s growth benefits
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.