Airfield group calls for action
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.”