Air­field group calls for ac­tion

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY COLIN MACGIL­LIVRAY

While Hor­sham Ru­ral City Coun­cil de­bates a 20-year plan to trans­form the city, Hor­sham Aero­drome Users Group has urged it to con­sider its air­field.

HAUG chair­man Tony Brand and com­mit­tee mem­bers Sel­wyn El­lis and Richard May met with the coun­cil in April to at­tend a work­shop on the coun­cil’s 2010 Hor­sham Aero­drome Busi­ness Plan, and again last month to con­sider a frame­work for de­vel­op­ing a new aero­drome mas­ter­plan.

Mr Brand said the group was de­ter­mined to work with the coun­cil to en­sure the aero­drome’s fu­ture was not com­pro­mised.

“The group has ex­ten­sive avi­a­tion knowl­edge and ex­per­tise that can pro­vide tech­ni­cal, op­er­a­tional and strate­gic ad­vice to coun­cil, if coun­cil seeks it, as was the case in all pre­vi­ous coun­cils,” he said.

The group formed in Fe­bru­ary to rep­re­sent and ad­vo­cate for aero­drome users, and li­aise with the coun­cil.

Mr Brand has been an ad­vi­sor to Aus­tralia’s Civil Avi­a­tion Safety Au­thor­ity and Fed­eral Trans­port Min­is­ter Michael Mccor­mack.

A vi­sion state­ment for a new mas­ter­plan de­vel­oped at last month’s meet­ing was: ‘Hor­sham aero­drome will be the key re­gional air­port in cen­tral Western Vic­to­ria’.

Mr May said it en­cap­su­lated the ini­tial vi­sion for the aero­drome from the coun­cil’s 2010 plan.

He said the coun­cil had also en­gaged con­sul­tants to com­plete a tech­ni­cal au­dit of a 2016 aero­drome mas­ter­plan that was voted

down. He said the coun­cil re­jected the 2016 mas­ter­plan and a Hor­sham In­te­grated Trans­port Strat­egy be­cause of the po­ten­tial for a Western High­way by­pass of Hor­sham to stymie fu­ture aero­drome ex­pan­sion.

Mr May said it was imperative the aero­drome be given the space to ex­pand its north­south run­way and re­sources to mod­ernise.

“It’s al­ways been our view to pro­tect the long-term po­ten­tial that the site was se­lected for,” he said.

“It’s the only aero­drome in the re­gion that has the ca­pac­ity for a long north-south run­way.

“If you think of large air tankers for fire­bomb­ing, air am­bu­lances, pas­sen­ger trans­port, or fly-in, fly-out for the gold mines, you have to have the ca­pac­ity there to sup­port that.”

Mr May said tech­nol­ogy in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try was chang­ing rapidly and Hor­sham needed to keep up.

“Who could have said five years ago or even three years ago that we’d be moving to­wards jets for our am­a­teurs?” he said.

“They re­quire min­i­mum 1600-me­tre run­ways; we’ve only got 900-me­tres.

“The east-west run­way is longer, but you have to be able to op­er­ate in all weather con­di­tions.

“Pro­tect­ing the long-term ca­pac­ity is imperative, and you can’t com­pro­mise that. It should take pri­or­ity over any other po­ten­tial uses for the area.

“You only get one chance and once you lose it, you don’t get it back.”

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