View the legislation here.
The Warnervale Airport Restriction Act 1996 was a private members bill introduced by the former Labor State Member for Wyong, Paul Crittenden MP under the then State Labor Government. Paul Crittenden’s popularity had reduced substantially as he and the then State Labor Government had ignored the needs and requirements of the Central Coast region, particularly Wyong, and this was being reflected badly in his popularity and the polls. The history behind this, is along the following;
In the early 1990’s, a local entrepreneur and identity, Les Graham the then owner of Grawill Ford (now Central Coast Ford in West Gosford opposite the Gosford Race Track), formed a company with a partner, known as Trader Finance. Trader Finance was exploring the opportunities of creating a new business to take away the International Airfreight business from Mascot. At the time, a Second Airport (Badgerys Creek) was being muted for the Sydney region, and Graham, seeing an opportunity started to explore the possibility of the Aerodrome at Warnervale as a potential site for 24/7 Freight Airport Hub. A public meeting was held in the Wyong RSL to promote the proposal. This meeting turned into a debacle being hijacked by “concerned” anti-airport minority, with outrageous and incorrect claims being made. At the time, the volatility and emotions generated at this meeting forced the Wyong Council to put this proposal on hold. Further, (in hindsight) it was clear that research into such a facility had not been thoroughly untaken, and neither the proponents for the proposal or the anti-Airport minority bothered to check their facts. The then current Civil Aviation Authority legislation Recommended Practices for Aerodromes (RPA) in effect since 1990 know known as (MS 139 – Regs) 2002 under the renamed Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) would never have permitted this proposal to proceed for Warnervale.
However, like many politicians, never let the truth get in the way of scaremongering and vote grabbing attention headlines, and a chance to rescue his position as Member for Wyong, as Paul Crittenden’s ability of retaining his seat at the next State Election was looking tenuous.
This precipitated the formation and submission of the Private Members Bill known today as The Warnervale Airport Restriction Act 1996. The legislation was hastily prepared with no proper input with very broad definitions giving rise to major interpretation issues which were never clarified leading to the current concerns and the resultant enquiry being conducted by the NSW State Government January-March 2020.
These are the key points:
- The WAR Act, whilst it has been established, has never been implemented (the only legislation of this type in Australian history)
- Can only be invoked and applied by the Minister for Planning and Environment of the sitting State Government.
- Before being invoked, requires an Application to the Supreme Court of NSW granting a Judgement of the Breach which is needed to trigger the Minister’s power to invoke the legislation, this invocation being at the Minister’s discretion after said Judgement is granted.
- The Minister for Planning and Environment has discretionary powers in management of the legislation without the need for a Court Judgement, where the Minister can vary the terms of the Legislation when a formal application is made to vary the conditions.
The YYCAA concerns in regard to the interpretation of the legislation is the following;
- The initial legislation was never designed to be blanketly applied to ALL aircraft using the Warnervale Aerodrome.
- The hastily devised legislation was aimed, in YCCAA’s view, at preventing the airport to be developed for alleged use of the aerodrome either then or in the future for use by RPT Jet Airliner Passenger Aircraft of their freighter equivalent. It was not designed to prevent or place limitations on General Aviation Aircraft operations less than 5,700 kilograms at fully legal loaded weight.
- Item 2 is further supported where the Runway Surface Strength is rated at a maximum load of 12 tonnes (12,000 kilograms).
- The legislation is being used a political weapon by opponents of the Central Coast Airport using falsities and misinterpretation of the WAR Act to deliberately mislead and misinform the ratepayers and residents of the Central Coast.
The YCCAA’s reasons and recommendations are as follows;
- Given the current legislation under CASA’s regulatory position, namely (MS 139 – Regs) 2002 Central Coast Airport will never meet the requirements of a Category 4 Aerodrome, which there removes any possibility of RPT Jet Airliner Heavy Aircraft or the Freight Carrier derivatives from ever operating from the site.
- Even if the Central Coast Airport Business Plan was implemented with all stages, the maximum Runway Length mooted in the report will never meet Category 4 requirements.
- The YCCAA regards the Warnervale Airport Restriction Act as a “Clayton’s Act” and was never ever needed, as there was already Federal Legislation in place (1990) which would have prevented and protected the Central Coast (in particular, the northern region) residents. That Federal legislation is still in force today and remains so.
- The fact that the Runway will never be a Category 4, automatically limits the type of aircraft that can use the facility by runway operational performance, being length, weight.
- The Central Coast Airport Business Plan commissioned by Council very clearly sets out the enormous financial benefits for the region.
- The YCCAA recommendation is that the WAR Act should be repealed, as it is preventing the development of the Airport into to General Aviation Business Hub which will create investment, employment, apprenticeships, and add the multiplier effect to other businesses in the Central Coast Region.