Aerodrome sale feedback closing soon
The community have until next Thursday, October 11 to provide feedback to a proposed sale of the public owned Yarrawonga Aerodrome.
The aerodrome includes 111.86 hectares of land, a sealed runway 1200 metres length and 45 metre width, pilot operated PAL runway lighting, a terminal building and fuel facility.
Council invited submissions for a 60-day period after a proposal for a Local Government Act public notice of council’s intention was passed at council’s July ordinary meeting.
The aerodrome land is adjacent to a freehold land precinct with almost 50 allotments with direct airside access as well as including residential occupants and a range of aviation businesses involved in aviation training, manufacturing and servicing.
Long-standing hangar and business owner at the Yarrawonga Aerodrome, Peter Mclean from P & M Aviation told the Yarrawonga Chronicle in August that he believed selling the aerodrome is a big risk to its ongoing viability.
Mr McLean said council has an upgrading program agreement with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) over the next five years, and would be in a better position to attract government grants to cover many of the costs than a private owner.
“A new owner may not get this benefit. They would have to upgrade immediately. Where would they get the money from?”
Mr McLean said all the private allotments at the airport are privately owned and a new owner would be forced to charge substantial fees for income to cover costs, which would hurt everybody in the community.
“This will affect agricultural costs for farmers using the airstrip. It will affect the viability of the aviation businesses and may force them to even relocate; breaking up the central aviation hub and take business opportunities and employment bases to other shire aerodromes, or simply shut them down altogether.
“This could ultimately push a new owner to close the aerodrome and divide the land up for residential or industrial use, which may even be the ultimate goal,” he said.
Moira Shire Chief Executive Officer Mark Henderson said the Yarrawonga Aerodrome has the potential to be one of the most successful privately owned and operated aerodromes in the region according to.
“There is plenty of evidence Yarrawonga can attract private aviation investment,” Mr Henderson said.
“The aerodrome needs to generate more activity and the private sector is best placed to grow regional aviation and business opportunities.
“Ratepayers fund a very broad range of facilities such as swimming pools and street lighting where there is no feasible alternative.
“But when it comes to caravan parks and aerodromes, there is clear private sector interest in these types of assets and we owe it to ratepayers to explore those options.”
Mr Henderson said regional aviation was rapidly changing and the private ownership of the Yarrawonga Aerodrome could provide quick responses to business opportunities.
Mr Henderson said CASA requirements are not based on whether an aerodrome is publically or privately owned and most aerodromes have a range of fees that operate along the lines of a toll road.
“That is inevitable regardless of who owns the aerodrome,” Mr Henderson said.
“The legal agreements on the title the current private owners and council have entered in to and the zoning of the land as an aerodrome prevents it being closed and developed for residential use.
“Any future sale contract would have a comprehensive set of special conditions to ensure continued aviation and emergency access.
“There certainly had been no decision to sell.
“This is a discussion on whether the aerodrome should be offered for sale and there is no guarantee the market would respond to a sale opportunity.”
Mr Henderson acknowledged the aero- drome provided a broad public benefit for the Yarrawonga community with air ambulance, police and fire services using the facility from time to time.
“The aerodrome also supports aerial crop management services for local agriculture,” he said.
“This is normal general aviation activity that will continue into the future.
“There is potential to grow the increasing tourist traffic as local golf and accommodation developments come online.
“The recent Qantas flight training EOI is a good example of a changing landscape and as Yarrawonga continues to develop as a premier tourism destination the aerodrome has a key role to play supporting investments like the Sebel Hotel.
“We have embraced private sector investment within the aerodrome precinct and are well placed to consider private ownership of the remaining council interests with the appropriate safeguards in place.
“The Yarrawonga Aerodrome has the potential to be one of the most successful privately owned and operated aerodromes in the region,” Mr Henderson said.
Members of the community can provide their feedback to council by lodging a submission online, by mail or at the council’s service centres in Cobram and Yarrawonga. Submissions must be received by 5pm Thursday, October 11, 2018.
If required, a Committee of Council Meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 31 at the Yarrawonga Town Hall to hear any person who indicated they wish to be heard in support of their written submission.
A decision on the proposed sale is planned to be made at the December 12 Ordinary Council Meeting. All submissions will be available at the meeting and on public display for 12 months. If council proceeds with the proposal to sell the aerodrome a separate and subsequent public sale process is required.
Feedback closes next week on the proposed sale of the Yarrawonga Aerodrome.