Aero­drome sale feed­back clos­ing soon

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY JARED LOUGH­NAN

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.

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