All-weather strip a step closer
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.