Council’s airport debate showed barely disguised bias

Letters to the editor

[Forum] I have an extensive interest in aviation (non-flying). The Central Coast Council appears to be doing all it can to, at best, obstruct the progress of the airport, and at worst, shut it down, despite the report commissioned by the previous Wyong Council in 2016/17, ‘Central Coast Airport Development Review’.

Aged 72 and recently attending my first ever council meeting at the Wyong Chambers on March 26, I was surprised by the conduct of the meeting under the Chairmanship of the Mayor. Following several other matters, when it came to the debate relating to the airport, the atmosphere became quite aggressive and dismissive of the speakers. I would say I witnessed barely disguised bias against the motion to allow the airport to continue and expand its training role. I left the meeting questioning what sort of a democracy we live in. Since that evening where my attendance was purely by chance through a contact who recently got his ‘Wings’ at Warnervale, I have discovered some interesting information which Council appear to be trying to avoid considering. With Warnervale on the brink, 137 aviation businesses, including some flight training schools, have expressed interest in relocating to The Central Coast Airport, setting up their operations at Warnervale, with a potential financial investment in the area, and to the community, of between $400-$600m dollars. The potential for employment, some 600- 1,000 jobs, which would include apprenticeships, has the potential to create a flow on of between 4,000 and 6,000 jobs in the surrounding region, let alone, inject somewhere in the region of $60-$70m dollars per year into the local economy. Because of the nature of the aviation world, some of these opportunities would inevitably both create and attract a local skilled labour force. The apprenticeships would significantly assist local youth in an area of high youth employment and welfare dependency, along with the issues this brings, such as drug use and other anti-social behaviours etc. with the Central Coast leading the country, unfortunately in this area. Behind all of these statistics, is a very real and current success story out of Warnervale. I was visiting recently and there was a family near the office counter, an older male and several youngsters. My eye was caught by a newspaper cutting pinned to the wall, headlined and featuring a 15-year-old pilot who was in the process of continuing his flying career, having already gone solo. I chatted to my wife about the young man, overhearing this, the instructor pointed to the young man in the group and said “he’s right there.” If the definition of success is not what an individual achieves but who they take with them, then behind the young man’s success, and every other student pilot who lives their dream to fly and gains their wings at Warnervale, are the flight training staff, maintenance, and a whole airport infrastructure. There is already a global shortage of pilots projected to be in the hundreds of thousands within the next decade. Opportunity begs. Wouldn’t it be a shame to see it all disappear from Warnervale, all due to the selfish interests of a minority few, to the disadvantage of the region.

Email, May 1 Allan Cooper, Erina

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