Media Release: Bring Peace to Warnervale, the Airport Conflict Must End

The Central Coast Greens remain committed to protecting residents from noise, the environment from pollution and the council from wasting money, by standing against changes to the Warnervale aerodrome. Despite some former councillors’ grandiose plans for a regional airport, there is no commercial demand, and a great many reasons to retain the aerodrome at its current modest size. The Warnervale Aerodrome restrictions ACT (WAR Act) has unexpectedly been subject to plans by Rob Stokes, Planning Minister, for repeal, opening the way for large scale change which would negatively impact the Central Coast, and which cannot be adequately explained on the publicly available evidence.

While the introduction of planning minister Rob Stokes’ Warnervale Airport Repeal Bill in the NSW Parliament last week saw another set of spectacular twists and turns on this issue, the Greens have stood resolutely against the ad-hoc removal of legislation designed to protect the quality of lives for thousands of Central Coast residents and safeguard key regional environmental assets.

All present were taken by surprise when Wyong Labor MP David Harris declined to oppose the repeal of the Warnervale Airport (Restrictions) Act which his Labor predecessor Paul Crittenden had shepherded through Parliament in 1996 in answer to Wyong Council’s ‘everlasting thought bubble’ airport grand plans.

All the more so because Harris in own submission to the minister’s Airport review inquiry indicated his preference for the retention of the WAR Act.

Less surprising but eminently watchable were the ensuing tortuous performances by Labor colleagues Liesl Tesch (Gosford) and David Mehan (The Entrance) who diligently joined their ‘shadow secretary for the Central Coast” in failing to oppose the repeal of the Act.

In contrast, it took Greens planning spokesperson Jamie Parker less than two minutes of plain speaking to delineate the case for retaining the Act:

“Our response is clear, and it is that there has been considerable community concern over a number of years about the proposed scaling up of the Warnervale Airport.

First, the airfield is poorly located and is unlikely to attain the necessary regulatory Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approval to enable safe and reliable operations involving larger aircraft, let alone regular passenger services.
Secondly, the most significant environmental constraints are imposed by the adjacent Porters Creek Wetland to the south, which is of regional ecological significance and appropriately zoned, and a contiguous band of a riparian fauna corridor, which includes some endangered ecological communities to the north. In addition, a major arterial road traverses the northern boundary.

Thirdly, the established suburbs in the local area are already noise affected and planning for a new Warnervale town centre and industrial land of the Warnervale Employment Zone is progressively approaching the airfield land.

Fourthly, there is no plausible business case for the development of a passenger airport, an air freight facility or an aeronautical industry at Warnervale.

Fifthly, the extension of the existing aircraft landing area into a CASA‑category aerodrome would result in an estimated additional 24,000 residents being noise affected. The expansion into a CASA-category airport with capacity for jets would mean an estimated additional 70,000 residents would be noise affected.

Finally, the existing Warnervale Airport Restrictions Act may well benefit from an amendment that could improve on known issues of oversight, administrative burden and consistency by removing flight restrictions, but removal of restrictions should not be supported.”

Central Coast residents only have a short opportunity to submit their views on the minister’s Repeal Bill before the on-line submissions close on 23 October. Our Inquiry will be interested to hear from people with an interest in this long running and controversial airport project. The Inquiry will consider the effects that the withdrawal of the existing legislation from the statute books will have on the region, local families, businesses and the environment. I would like to encourage all those interested to complete the concise on-line submission form. The inquiry is due to report to parliament by 16 November. The Greens will work with all parties in the House in search of the best possible resolution which may hopefully bring to an end the long period of division and disenchantment on this issue.