Tuesday 30 June 2015
Community concern regarding the application for a NSW Government grant to reinvigorate the Merimbula airport was sparked by a misleading report in the Merimbula News Weekly, Mayor Michael Britten said today.
Cr Britten said the front page report in the June 17 newspaper claimed that Council wanted to spend $9 million dollars on the resurfacing of the airport runway. This is based on the use of asphalted concrete (hot mix) which may only come into play at the end of an extensive upgrade to facilities.
“If at a later date larger aircraft are required we will seek to secure further funding for a runway resurface from state or federal funds after completion of the current and future works.
“For the record, the agreed total amount for our application to the state Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund is now $6.7 million, which is proposed for a 200 metre runway extension, the sealing of the runway safety zone, the expansion of the existing terminal, and providing critical services such as water and sewer.
“The current application, if successful, will see the use of grant funding to pay for the cost of works that benefit a major community asset, and allow for infrastructure to support a range of activities.
“Council has done a lot of work since 2013 in preparing a case for the airport, being aware that State funding was becoming available, we’ve got through the first stage but there’s more to do.
“Depending on aircraft traffic the surface of the runway can require interim work at regular intervals, and with an extensive increase in traffic, major resurfacing may be required.
“It’s unfortunate that news of the resurface was taken out of the above context and sparked negative feedback in the newspaper’s letters page when it is not the focus of any of Council’s current activity.
“A major upgrade of the surface at some point into the future may be undertaken, if funded, that is all.
“It’s worth remembering that after securing significant funds to reinvigorate the Eden Port precinct, we are attempting the same with our other major tourism gateway in Merimbula.
“We have an adopted masterplan that was developed through independent research, ongoing community consultation, an independent economic assessment of the airport, and proactive work on boosting air traffic demand.
“We are working in a number of areas to grow utilisation and to link the Eden Port and the Merimbula Airport with new opportunities.
“Advancing to the next stage of the State Government’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund (Regional Airports) is good news for the community; and we are hopeful that it will soon become great news should our funding application be successful,” Cr Britten said.