Airport broken lease cost less than $1.5M

Overlooking the airport at Warnervale

Administrator Dick Persson has confirmed that the cost to Central Coast Council to break its Warnervale airport agreement with Amphibian Aerospace Industries (AAI) was less than $1.5M.

Persson had asked chief financial officer, Natalia Cowley, to ask the company if Council could make public the cost which had been commercial-in-confidence.

The company was okay with the disclosure as long as it was pointed out that the payment merely covered its costs and was not a profit payment.

Council breached its contract with AAI which is why it paid to allow AAI to recover its costs.

Amphibian Aerospace Industries announced in October, 2016, that it would move its headquarters to Warnervale Airport.

It had signed an agreement with the then Wyong Council, witnessed by the then NSW Premier, Mike Baird.

The airport was going to be developed into a general aviation hub and regular passenger transport airport.

Under the terms of the AAI lease, Council agreed to relocate Jack Grant Ave and associated services to include a 5.2ha site into the aviation hub landholding.

More than a dozen other organisations showed interest in moving their businesses to the general aviation hub.

But then in October, 2017, the newly elected Council decided to not proceed with the airport plans to expand.

A number of attempted rescission motions failed to change the decision.

The councillors were suspended in October last year and Persson only has one more Council meeting to chair before he finishes up.

At the April 13 meeting, Persson adopted a Council recommendation to develop a Master Plan and Plan of Management for the airport.

The decision gives the CEO direction to explore including parcels of land at 4 and 10 Warren Rd, Warnervale, and 140 Sparks Rd, Warnervale, into the draft Airport Masterplan and to suspend the sales of these land parcels until the plan is finalised.

The Council authorised the CEO to immediately suspend the development of the Warnervale conservation agreement and any agreement with the NSW biodiversity Conservation Trust to permanently protect the Porters Creek Wetland until the master plan, a plan of Management and a subdivision plan is registered that subdivides the Wetland and surrounding E2 land from the employment land in Warnervale.

He will also hold discussions with the Aviation Industry and affected land-owners.

Persson added into the decision protections so the runway will remain at its current length of 1200m and the wetlands are protected.

He said there was room for both protection of Porters Creek Wetlands and a light aviation airport.

“It’s not hard to get a win-win here,” he said.

Merilyn Vale