Councillors vote down staff plans to expand Central Coast Airport

The runway at Central Coast airport

Central Coast’s new Councillors have voted down staff plans to expand the Central Coast Airport at Warnervale.
Council confirmed its support for the Warnervale Airport (Restrictions) Act and resolved that the current 1,196 metre runway not be extended, removed or altered.
Council further resolved that all works at the Central Coast Airport would be suspended, unless required by law, or that suspension would expose Council to liability.
Council also resolved to reallocate budget allocated to the development of Central Coast Airport to employment generating projects in the former Wyong local government area, with a report to be put to the February 12, 2018, Council Meeting.
Mayor Jane Smith said the Warnervale Airport (Restrictions) Act provided safeguards for the community and that any future development of the airport must have that in mind.
“There is a view that there are better employment generating options out there, other than developing the airport, and we want to explore those options,” Mayor Smith said.
“It is crucial for the progress of the Coast that we find the right balance between the built and natural environment,” she said.
“The airport is near the Porters Creek Wetlands, and we need to ensure that any development is sensitive to the biodiversity of the area, and protects the water quality in the Tuggerah Lakes estuary now and into the future.”
Council will also prepare a report to protect the biodiversity of the Porters Creek Wetlands and report back to the meeting on February 26, 2018.
Council has resolved not to move forward as originally proposed by the former Wyong Council.
Clr Doug Vincent, who had opposed the expansion of the airport during his time as a Wyong Councillor, moved an alternative motion to that put forward by staff, when Council met on November 27.
Clr Vincent moved: “That Council fully support the Warnervale Airport Restrictions Act (WAR Act 1996); that Council not approve any development at the Warnervale Airport which is not consistent with the WAR Act (1996); that Council not immediately extend or remove the current 1196 metre runway; that Council not alter the position, length, width, thickness or strength of the current runway; that Council immediately suspend all works, land acquisitions and expenditure on the Central Coast Airport, except where those works are required by law or the suspension of those works would put Council in breach of existing contractual obligations and/or expose Council to claims for damages or variation under any such contract; that Council reallocate the budget for the Airport of $6 million to employment generating projects across the former Wyong Shire, with staff to prepare a strategy and report to council by February 12 for approval of the strategy; that Council maintain the current site zoning, unaltered and not approve rezoning to SP2; that Council permanently protect all of the Porters Creek Wetland owned by Council, and south of the current runway, from development for biodiversity, emergency drinking water supply and protection of the water quality into the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary; that Council staff prepare a report to protect the Porters Creek Wetland: and, the report be bought back to council for approval on February 26.”
Speaking in support of the motion, Clr Vincent said: “On July 1, 1996, the Warnervale Airport Restrictions Act (WAR Act) received assent and came into force on June 1, 1997.
“The then member for Wyong, read his second reading speech to commend the Warnervale Airport (Restrictions) Bill, saying: “The bill essentially provides a safeguard for the people of the Wyong electorate.
“In the first instance, it allows for the construction of a new runway at Warnervale in my electorate, no longer than 1,200 metres in length, imposition of a curfew from 10:00pm to 6:30am, and limitation of the number of aircraft movements per day to 88.
“The Central Coast Regional Plan 2016 to 2036 does not include a Regional Airport.
“On August 11, 2017, the NSW Minister for Planning, Mr Anthony Roberts, announced that the WAR Act would remain in place, following a request by the then Wyong Council for it to be repealed.
“Mr Roberts said the Government would consider whether additional controls on future development at Warnervale Airport might be needed to ensure that any further proposals were subject to community consultation, rigorous environmental assessment, and determined by an appropriately impartial body.”

Agenda item 3.8, Nov 27
Meeting notes, Nov 27
Central Coast Council ordinary meeting
Jackie Pearson, journalist

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