Learn about our campaign to save Warnervale Airport and create jobs on the Central Coast
VIEW THE CENTRAL COAST AVIATION HUB PLAN
In March/April 2017 the Central Coast Airport Review, a comprehensive report commissioned by the Administrator of the former Wyong Council (prior to amalgamation with Gosford Council) at a cost to rate payer of $450,000.00, was published for Council to review and display to the ratepayers and residents of the Central Coast which clearly shows the financial and social benefits for such General Aviation Business Hub infrastructure to be pursued, developed and implemented at the existing Warnervale Airport location.
At the first Council meeting held at the Wyong Chambers in November 2017 Eight out of fifteen Councillors (being the two CEN Councillors and five Labor Councillors) for the Central Coast Council has voted down the displaying of the report to the Central Coast community, in order to seek public review and comment, even though they spent $450,000 to have the report compiled.
On no less than six occasions up until the end 2019, Councillor Greg Best has lodged a Rescission Motion, supported by Councillors Bruce McLaughlin, Chris Holstein along with the four Liberal Councillors, and each time this motion was defeated with former Mayor (CEN) Jane Smith using her casting vote to ensure the matter was refused. Up until December 2019, not one of the Labor or CEN Councillors have been able to provide a valid reason for their decision.
It has purely been a political position and in the YCCAA’s opinion, not in the best interests of the Central Coast businesses, ratepayers and community members.
In September 2019, Councillor Jane Smith was removed as Mayor by her peers. She was replaced by Labor Councillor Lisa Matthews, a former Councillor of the Wyong Council which was absorbed by the amalgamation.
YCCAA supports and encourages the development of the Central Coast Airport in line with this comprehensive report
However, the report, should it be implemented in its current full form, breaches the Warnervale Airport Restriction Act (WAR Act), and places obstacles and challenges to the further development of an Aviation Business (Hub) Park unless the WAR Act is either amended or repealed. (Please refer to the Warnervale Airport Restriction Act).
The Central Coast Airport Review is broken down into eight sections. If the implementation of the report that is contained to the first five sections, then current WAR Act legislation will not be breached, however still creates restraint on commercial business operations.
Given the pressure that will be placed on Bankstown Airport once the Badgerys Creek Airport opens, makes the Warnervale site perfectly placed, in our opinion, to provide a platform for aviation based ancillary goods and services for the General Aviation industry. Warnervale Airport is easily accessible to the M1 (two minutes’ drive) and by Rail (five minutes), which make it a perfect location.
Further, the ongoing development of the Newcastle/Williamstown Airport as an International Airport is placing strain on their proposed General Aviation facilities, which could be taken over by the Warnervale facilities. This has already been suggested and unofficially offered by the Newcastle Airport Authority. This is another possible opportunity that is being handed to the Central Coast on a platter.
In 2016, under the management of the Council Administrator, a lease was entered into with Amphibious Aerospace Industries Pty Ltd (AAI) for the development of an Amphibious Aircraft repair/refurbishment and maintenance facility as stage one, concentrating on the Grumman Aerospace Amphibious Aircraft models such as the Goose, Mallard and Albatross (a derivate of the Mallard).
The main market for these aircraft upon completion of restoration/conversion is South East Asia.
Stage two for this company was the commencement of manufacturing new Albatross/Mallard and Goose amphibious aircraft under license to Grumman Aerospace Industries.
Sadly, the first thing that Former Mayor Jane Smith’s Councillor bloc after burying the Central Coast Airport Review, was to renege on the contractual agreement with AAI by having the new Central Coast Council breach its contractual obligations with AAI. The method engaged by the former Mayor Jane Smith is one of extreme controversy as these were not on public display and held behind closed doors with Council Staff and Councillors embargoed (prohibited) in discussing the activities behind the new Council’s intention to close the Airport upon the expiration of the Aero Club’s Licence to operate in September 2021.
This effectively killed a $100 million investment, employing 300+ people spread over five to eight years. It is reported that that a sum of up to several 10’s of millions of dollars was paid out by the new Central Coast Council in compensation for their breach of contract with AAI. The exact terms and amounts are not known as all matters pertaining to this topic and the Central Coast Airport was carried out in secrecy behind closed doors with Council Staff and Councillors being subjected to an embargo (gag) order by former Mayor Jane Smith and her Labor Councillor supporters. In fact, certain Council staff members were forbidden to communicate with the YCCAA in any form, under the duress of loss of employment by former Mayor Jane Smith (their words and not that of the YCCAA).
In summary, we are informed that up to $600 million in investment can be generated at Warnervale Airport, once the flow-on effect of employment reaches out to other non-aviation business areas within the Central Coast. This is set out in the Central Coast Airport Business Plan report that the Council buried.
The CEO of AOPA Australia, has indicated that their organisation would be keen to relocate the Association’s operations to Warnervale, should the development proceed. Further expressions have come from an internationally acclaimed Australian Airshow operator, US Aircraft Manufacturer (not AAI) looking to establish an Assembly plant for the South East Asian region, Electrical powered Aircraft manufacturer from the US, Aeronautical Media Group from the US, Battery Technology for Aviation manufacturer to name a few. Add to these the other 137 expressions of interest received by the Council from interested businesses when the report they buried was produced.
The Central Coast Aero Club owns just under three hectares of land at the airport upon which sits the Hangars, Club House and other improvements. The Aero Club has an agreement/licence with Council to operate on the Council Aerodrome precinct until September 2021. As this agreement has not been renewed, with lack of transparency being exhibited with Council, in particular by former Mayor Jane Smith, at this stage, puts the future of the Aero Club at risk and the Airport is under a cloud along the Investment and Employment opportunities that the development of the current airport site offers until this agreement/license to operate is renewed, with a substantial term. As of January 2020, the Council has remained ominously quiet about renewal of the Central Coast Aero Club’s license to operate renewal.
The report commissioned by the former Wyong Council, shows the Expressions of Interest were sought by way of national and international advertisements and the Council received 137 enquiries; of these 35 requested MOU’s and of those, 17 executed non-binding MOU’s stating that they would move to Warnervale upon approval. This information was released by Council eventually, after considerable pressure was applied on them to be transparent! YCCAA understands that after the first few MOU’s had committed, other businesses have shown further interest. The Your Central Coast Airport Association has been incorporated to assist and encourage the development and establishment of a General Aviation Business Aviation (hub) Park for the Central Coast region, and more importantly, oppose the recalcitrant Councillor’s push to shut down the airport. With the region having one of the highest Youth unemployment areas in Australia (17%), we believe this to be an excellent opportunity to put a large dent in that reputation and regenerate desperately needed activity in the small business sector.
YCCAA is campaigning for the Central Coast Council to be transparent with the community. We want to know why they are refusing to release the report to the public and why they aren’t supporting job creation in aviation, on the Central Coast.
On August 12th, 2019, a major protest was staged at the Council Meeting held at the Wyong Chambers where the full gallery and the over-flow room. All people stood in protest at the Councillors position. This caused the meeting to be suspended. Former Mayor Smith shut down the live CCTV feed and tried to clear the Gallery. All people in the Gallery and people in the Over-flow room refused and the meeting subsequently resumed with the recalcitrant Councillors and former Mayor Smith clearly on notice that their shenanigans had been called out that the Central Coast Airport matter was clearly on the agenda.
A short time later a public poll initiated through Facebook saw over 5,000 respondents in support of the Central Coast Airport and its continued development as a General Aviation Business Hub, sending a further clear message to the Labor Councillors, in particular, the two CEN Councillors, that many of their constituents were not happy with their behaviour.
In addition to this, former Mayor Smith with the assistance of her Labor Councillor bloc has created unacceptable safety issues by not allowing the trees along Warnervale Road adjacent to Runway 20 to be pruned (lopped) to ensure that the approach gradient remains within the 3% figure. This has clearly been done to force the cessation of airport activities and is an accident waiting to happen. Medivac aircraft are having to execute non-standard approaches (with patients on board) to deal with the tree height which is now running at an unacceptable 7% gradient, more than twice the regulatory gradient limit, if the airfield was licensed.
Due to the interaction, this captured the attention of the New South Wales State Government. As a result, the NSW Government has called for a State Government review of the Airport and the Warnervale Airport Restriction Act to be held in the first quarter of 2020. (See the War Act elsewhere on this site).
With Council elections looming September 2020, the Central Coast Airport will be one of several crucial campaigning points along with several other disenchanted groups in other areas of the Central Coast region who have become disillusioned by the disruptive and dyslexic nature of the new Council in its first term of office.
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