All-weather strip a step closer

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - John Ely

The cam­paign to give the bor­der town of Eucla an all-weather airstrip for med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions has achieved an im­por­tant mile­stone.

In a pub­lic no­tice re­leased yes­ter­day, WA Lands Min­is­ter Terry Red­man an­nounced his ap­proval for a pro­posal to lease the area con­tain­ing the un­sealed Eucla airstrip to the Shire of Dun­das.

The land will be granted for the con­struc­tion and main­te­nance of an air­craft land­ing strip as a place for med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions and ser­vice providers in the Eucla area.

The no­tice also calls for all par- ties with in­ter­ests in the land, in­clud­ing na­tive ti­tle claimants, to com­ment within the next two months.

The airstrip can be trans­formed into an un­us­able quag­mire for months at a time fol­low­ing pe­ri­ods of rain.

An all-weather airstrip was iden­ti­fied as pri­or­ity by lo­cals late last year af­ter air­craft were un­able to land at the airstrip for 12 weeks .

Dur­ing that time, the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice was un­able to pro­vide seven vis­its from a fly-in, fly-out GP that ser­vices the Eucla area. More than 30 pa­tients had to be driven to the near­est hos­pi­tal in- stead of be­ing evac­u­ated by air be­tween July 2014 and Au­gust 2015.

In one case, a 50-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman had to be driven 260km to an airstrip in South Aus­tralia af­ter be­ing se­ri­ously in­jured in a crash with a kan­ga­roo on the Eyre High­way.

Shire of Dun­das pres­i­dent Jac­qui Best la­belled the no­tice “the start of the ball rolling”.

But she said even if the Shire was granted the lease of the land it would still have to se­cure fund­ing to de­velop the site.

“I don’t think we’ll have time to ap­ply for fund­ing this fi­nan­cial year,” Mrs Best said.

“But we will ac­tively be work­ing for it for the next year.”

A WA Depart­ment of Lands spokesman said post­ing the no­tice was a crit­i­cal part of the process to de­velop the airstrip.

“No de­vel­op­ment can pro­ceed un­til the fu­ture Act process is com­pleted and the ap­pro­pri­ate land ten­ure is is­sued,” he said.

“Any pro­posed fund­ing would be sub­ject to land ten­ure be­ing in place in the first in­stance.”

The airstrip is in a pro­posed na­tive ti­tle area cur­rently un­der con­sid­er­a­tion by the Mirn­ing peo­ple.

Gold­fields Land and Sea Coun­cil was con­tacted for com­ment.

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