Tocumwal new home of National Cham­pi­onships

Southern Riverina news - - Front Page - By Marissa Daly

AVI­A­TION is set to take off in Tocumwal next year with the Aus­tralian National Aer­o­batic Cham­pi­onships (ANAC) of­fi­cially mak­ing Ber­ri­gan Shire its new home.

ANAC or­gan­is­ers con­firmed Tocumwal as the new home of the national cham­pi­onships from 2012, and es­ti­mate a lo­cal cash in­jec­tion of $100,000 for the week-long event to be held in Oc­to­ber.

The ANAC will join the Vic­to­rian Aer­o­batic Cham­pi­onships at Tocumwal Aero­drome.

The state cham­pi­onships are held in Fe­bru­ary each year, and have been held in Tocumwal for the past four years.

Tocumwal’s bid at host­ing the high pro­file national event was un­der threat last month af­ter ‘‘ex­ces­sive noise’’ from aer­o­batic train­ing ses­sions prompted a group of res­i­dents liv­ing next to the aero­drome to con­tact the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) to voice their con­cerns.

They said while it was not their in­ten­tion to halt lo­cal progress, they had a right to be ‘‘con­sid­ered’’ and that the noise de­val­ued their prop­er­ties.

How­ever, Ber­ri­gan Shire gen­eral man­ager Rowan Perkins said af­ter con­sul­ta­tions with the Air­craft Noise om­buds­man and the EPA there ‘‘was no le­gal rea­son’’ not to al­low the event to go ahead.

But coun­cil is tak­ing the com­plaints into con­sid­er­a­tion, he added.

‘‘The bot­tom line is coun­cil are very sup­port­ive of see­ing the National Cham­pi­onships do very well.

‘‘We want to see the aero­drome used but we will need a man­age­ment plan to avoid un­due con­flict.’’

Ber­ri­gan Shire di­rec­tor of tech­ni­cal ser­vices Fred Ex­ton said a man­age­ment plan would be com­pleted by Christ­mas, in time for the Vic­to­rian Ac­ro­batic Cham­pi­onships sched­uled for Fe­bru­ary.

Aus­tralian aer­o­bat­ics cham­pion Paul An­dron­i­cou, who has pre­vi­ously trained at the aero­drome, said 2012 would mark the fifth year the state event had been held in Tocumwal.

‘‘They have been re­ally suc­cess­ful, and the aero­drome has been recog­nised as a fan­tas­tic venue,’’ he said.

Fol­low­ing the noise com­plaints Mr An­dron­i­cou said the Aus­tralian Aer­o­bat­ics Club was keen to work with Ber­ri­gan Shire and lo­cal res­i­dents.

‘‘We want to bring more aware­ness of the sport and the ben­e­fits to the com­mu­nity.

‘‘Once peo­ple un­der­stand, we are con­fi­dent the event will be em­braced,’’ he said.

Mr An­dron­i­cou said the shire could ex­pect more than $100,000 to be spent lo­cally per event.

‘‘The na­tion­als will bring 40 or 50 pi­lots to town, and their fam­i­lies. On av­er­age pi­lots are spend­ing $3500 on fuel, ac­com­mo­da­tion and meals.’’

The SOUTH­ERN RIVE­RINA NEWS re­ceived a num­ber of let­ters to the editor in sup­port of the event af­ter re­cent ar­ti­cles out­lin­ing noise com­plaints from nearby res­i­dents.

Some let­ters wel­comed the National Cham­pi­onships say­ing it would ‘‘put Tocumwal on the map’’ and call­ing it an ‘‘amaz­ing avi­a­tion op­por­tu­nity’’, while oth­ers crit­i­cised the com­plainants.

The National Cham­pi­onships will be held in Tocumwal next Oc­to­ber.

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