Variation sought to AAI airport development

A Section 96 application to modify the development consent for the Amphibian Aerospace International (AAI) aeroplane hangar, office and car parking at 150 to 190 Sparks Rd, Warnervale, was lodged with Central Coast Council on May 29.
Long-term critic of the airport and Community Environment Network foundation member, Mr Laurie Eyes said the Section 96 application, which would not be advertised by Council, included moves to extend the runway, relocate Jack Grant Avenue and raise the Sparks Road intersection.
According to ADW Johnson, who were engaged by AAI to prepare and lodge the Section 96 application, “the proposed amendment is aimed at allowing a reduced floor level for the development and therefore a reduction in the amount of fill required for construction of the development.”
AAI received their DA consent on February 27 but, according to ADW Johnson, “Since that time, Central Coast Council have been investigating issues associated with planned upgrades to Central Coast Airport, and as part of those investigations, have identified flood mitigation works which will be carried out as preliminary works.
“These investigations have allowed Council to understand the floor levels of each development area across the site as well as understand the volume of earthworks required for the development of the site.”
According to the Section 96 application, reports prepared by GHD on behalf of council, identify a number of mitigation measures required to allow development to satisfy the 100 year flood development controls for the site.
“These measures include: closure of existing culvert below Sparks Rd; construction of temporary levee along northern boundary of development site in advance of Sparks Rd upgrade (400mm plus 500mm freeboard); raising of intersection of Jack Grant Ave to proposed levee level; construction of diversion drains along western and northern boundaries; and, construction of stormwater management measures.
“Council’s Unit Manager for Economic Development and Project Management, Mr Jamie Barclay, has confirmed that Council will be commencing the construction of the levee and culverts in June.
“These mitigation measures allow for a reduction in the minimum floor level required for development on site.”
According to ADW Johnson, “The proposed amendment continues to comply with all relevant planning provisions of the Wyong Local Environmental Plan 2013, the Wyong Development Control Plan 2013 and variations approved under the original consent.”
The application reveals that the land to be developed by AAI is owned by “The Council of the Shire of Wyong”, which has agreed to a long-term lease arrangement with AAI.
In response to the Section 96 amendment, Mr Eyes said: “Council are intending to redevelop Warnervale Airport and extend it about 200m to the south and into Porters Creek wetland according to the DA 1453/2016 amendment.
“I understood works within a 100m buffer around SEPP 14 Wetland were not allowed under new regulations,” Mr Eyes said.
“I would be very surprised if this extensive work, including relocating Jack Grant Ave, a 1.2km levee and raising the Sparks Rd intersection all adjacent to Porters Creek Wetland,… does not require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS),” he said.
“The new Jack Grant Ave goes through E2 conservation land adjacent to a fauna corridor.
Has the RMS and other affected agencies been consulted because the community certainly has not,” Mr Eyes said.
Mr Eye’s said a private town planning consultant had looked at the Section 96 amendment and provided the following feedback.
“I would share your concern about the impact on the endangered species,” the consultant said.
“This was raised by the planner who wrote the assessment report on the original DA.
“He/she stated that the site had been recently slashed and it was impossible to tell what plants were growing on the site.”
The consultant said it appeared Council had ignored this issue when they approved the DA,
“The basis for the DA modification is the GHD study “Central Coast Airport – Flood and Master Grading, Flood Assessment Report”, commissioned by the Council.
“This study proposes flood mitigation works consisting of a levee along the northern boundary of the airport and new culverts under Sparks Road.
“The study concludes that these works will lower the !% probability flood level on the airport and increase the 1 per cent AEP flood level in Buttonderry Creek by 230 mm, which appears to be pretty significant.
“The GHD study mentions the impacts of these works on Porters Creek wetland, which Buttonderry Creek feeds into.
“All of the airport site and adjoining land is in the Wetland Management Area for Porters Creek Wetland.
“Under Wyong LEP 2013, flood mitigation works are permissible with development consent in every zone.
“However, the Infrastructure SEPP overrides the LEP and makes flood mitigation works permissible without consent (unless the works are physically located within a SEPP 14 wetland).
“So if the Council has considered this issue, it will say that the flood mitigation works along the airport boundary are permissible without consent.
“It can be argued, however, that the flood mitigation works could potentially have a significant environmental impact on Porters Creek wetland, since the flood level in Buttonderry Creek will be increased by 230 mm.
“Under Part 5 of the EP & A Act (which applies to a public authority undertaking development without development consent), Council is required to consider whether the flood mitigation works will have a significant environmental impact.
“As a minimum, Council should have prepared and considered a review of environmental factors; in view of the importance of the SEPP 14 wetland, I would have expected an REF to recommend that Council prepare a full EIS with proper public consultation,” the consultant said.
Mr Eyes said he would also argue that the diagrams included in the Section 96 application are evidence of Council’s intention to further extend the runway at the Warnervale air strip.
“These works were given the green light by ex-councillors Eaton, Best, Troy and Taylor on October 28, 2015, when they approved the development of Warnervale Airport.
“Mr Troy and Mr Taylor, under Save Tuggerah Lakes Party or STL, are supposedly protecting the lakes and wetlands and yet they approved this.
“Council has refused me a copy of the Warnervale Airport Master Plan under GIPA law and we have had our first a hearing in the Administrative Tribunal on Tuesday, May 30, in an effort to have Council release the Master Plan that they are working to.
“Our next date in the Tribunal up against Council and requesting the release the Master Plan, AAI lease documents and AAI due diligence report is set down for July 11.
“All documents requested were in the public interest.
“Council are rushing to get all airport works under way before the Administrator loses control and the new Council are elected,” he said.
Wyong Regional Chronicle has asked Council to respond to Mr Eyes’ contentions and will publish that response in the next available edition.

Website, May 25
Central Coast Council Wyong DA tracker
Email, Jun 3
Laurie Eyes, Community Environment Network
Jackie Pearson, journalist