Following its closure last week, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia (AOPA) has joined the fight to help save Katoomba Airfield, after the NSW Government-issued aerodrome licence was cancelled on 28 February.
“Katoomba Airfield is an invaluable community asset for the residents of the Blue Mountains, and recently it demonstrated its value as a front-line base of operations during the bush fire crisis”, CEO AOPA Australia, Benjamin Morgan.
“Lives, homes, businesses, the World-Heritage Blue Mountains bushland and millions of fauna and flora are all placed at significant risk, should the airfield be closed and made unavailable to both fixed-wing and rotary aerial firefighting services.
“The airfield’s two runways are currently in an advanced state of disrepair, with the airfield requiring over $3 million in capital works to return it to a safe status.
“There is no appetite from the Blue Mountains City Council to step in and provide critical funding, nor has there been any interest from the Department of Lands.
“The environmentalists and activists who sought to block the airfield lease, have given no regard to the conservation of human life, the safety of the community, wildlife and bushland, nor have they offered a plan to provide the immediate capital funding that is required to ensure that the airfield is maintained to a safe standard for fire-fighting activities.
“Those opposed to the airfield are not demonstrating a rational understanding of the risks to the Blue Mountains community, nor do they seem to appreciate the remoteness of their location and the distances involved in resourcing aerial firefighting resources from Richmond, Bankstown and Camden Airports should Katoomba Airfield be closed.
“Whilst community consultation is critical, the process undertaken by the Department of Lands has been substantially flawed and permitted opposing submissions from persons to which the airfield has no direct or meaningful relationship.
“AOPA Australia is deeply concerned that anti-airport activists have misrepresented the facts and have sought to fear-monger tourists and visitors to the Blue Mountains into opposing the airfield.
“Furthermore, the consultation was undertaken prior to the recent bush fire emergency.
“Should further community consultation be undertaken, it is likely that there would be a far more positive appreciation for the value of the community airfield and its role in protecting human life, property, and the environment.
“The proposal that has been put forward by FlyBlue will provide the necessary capital investment, ensuring that local ratepayers, community members and tax-payers are not directly burdened.
“The proposal ensures that the airfield site is professionally managed and maintained, increasing overall airfield safety which is integral to its future use by emergency services.
“The proposal also ensures that a vital airfield, which lays along a major aviation transit route between the Sydney Basin, Bathurst and beyond, is available as an emergency landing site, ensuring that student pilots are not forced to land into heavily wooded bushland, where the likelihood of fatality is high.
“Common sense must prevail, and the future of Katoomba Airfield be assured,” he said.
Katoomba Airfield has been at the centre of the Blue Mountains community since 1968 and has held a critical role in the:
- The protection of both lives and property in the Blue Mountains community and beyond from bush fires and other natural disasters
- Provided an ‘airborne safety ramp’ for all small aircraft traversing one of the most inhospitable terrains in NSW, and
- Delivered opportunities for tourism, businesses and jobs in the local community & beyond. AOPA Australia is calling for your help to reverse this decision and to Save Katoomba Airfield.
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