The future of Central Coast Regional Airport still unclear

A view of the Central Coast Airport from the air. Photo: CC Aero ClubA view of the Central Coast Airport from the air. Photo: CC Aero Club

Mixed messages are being delivered by the Central Coast Council about the future of plans to develop a regional airport at Warnervale.

Council’s Administrator, Mr Ian Reynolds, appeared to back away from the former Wyong Council’s plans, and other recent Central Coast Council proposals, to expand the current Central Coast Airport into a regional airport and general aviation hub. When asked if Council still planned to develop a regional airport at Warnervale, Mr Reynolds said: “There are no plans on my desk to do that.

“The plan that is on Council’s desk is the Development Application for the fi rst stage of the AAI proposal,” he said. Amphibian Aerospace Industries (AAI) announced in October that it would relocate its operations to the Central Coast. AAI is the Type Certificate Holder to the Grumman HU-16 Models A to E and G-111 Albatross Amphibian Aircraft. It has recently lodged a development application with Council for the first stage of its new aircraft facility. The estimated value of the proposed stage one development was $2.8 million to build a hangar with a roof area of 2,760 square metres, well short of the 18,000 square metres in the original announcement.

“The first stage is for an office and showroom, the second stage would obviously come after that,” Mr Reynolds said. “That is the proposal for the Central Coast Airport at the moment,” Mr Reynolds said. Former President of the Central Coast Airport Action Group, Mr Laurie Eyes, said Mr Reynold’s statements did not correspond with other recent decisions taken by Central Coast Council. “Has Mr Reynolds rescinded Council’s Operational Plan, because it clearly includes expansion of the airport,” Mr Eyes said. The Operational Plan included $6 million expenditure on the airport in the current 2016-17 financial year.

Moves to acquire land from the Central Coast Aero Club which will see the Club relocated from the centre of the Warnervale airport site to other land on the site also appeared to contradict Mr Reynold’s statements. Approval was also given in a confidential session of Council on January 24 to acquire more land, at 10 Jack Grant Ave, Warnervale, through the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

“I am not aware of the whole history,” Mr Reynolds said when pressed for clarification of Council’s plans for the airport at Warnervale. “My understanding is that the Central Coast Airport with its current runway configuration is suitable for current purposes. “AAI will be involved with aircraft refurbishment and that sort of thing. “There may be spin offs that occur as a result of that sort of proposal,” he said. Mr Eyes said if Mr Reynold’s statements represented a change in the direction Council was taking with the airport, that intent should be made clear to the public. He said the land was within the Wyong Employment Zone and should be developed for industrial, employment generating purposes.

“Why has it taken so long for Mr Reynolds to acknowledge that the Warnervale Airport Restrictions Act is not going to be overturned, that the Council’s regional airport is not in the new State Government Central Coast Regional Plan? “Their proposal to build a regional airport at Kiar Ridge fell over and they were pinged for extending the current runway. “At what point do they say they think they made a mistake? “Before Wyong Council extended the runway at Warnervale there was no curfew or limit on plane movements, but by extending the runway, they invoked the conditions of the Warnervale Airport Protection Act, if that Act is retained by the State Government,” Mr Eyes said.

The Act is currently the subject of a review by the NSW Government, at the request of the former Wyong Council. “The Warnervale land is level and next to the expressway with rail access, it is way too valuable to be locked up for a regional airport. “If Council is not going to build a regional airport then they should get on with development of the WEZ land as planned. “They are going for 26 jobs when they could use that land to created 626,” he said.

Interview, Jan 17, 2017 Ian Reynolds, Central Coast Council Interview, Jan 27, 2017 Laurie Eyes, Wyong Creek Jackie Pearson, journalist