The future of Katoomba Airfield in the Blue Mountains is in doubt after the State Government elected not to proceed with lease negotiations last month.
Following the cancellation of the aerodrome licence on 28 February which rendered the airfield shut, Capertee Valley farmers and licensees Floyd and Derek Larsen continue to raise issues with the State Government regarding the validity of its community consultation process (CES).
The aviation community are calling on the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, to review their decision because they claim the community consultation leading up to the decision to cancel the licence wasn’t fair.
FlyBlue Director Floyd Larsen said they went to great efforts to counter the misinformation being perpetrated in the local community during the CES, with assurances from both NSW Crown Lands and the NSW State Government.
“We were repeatedly assured that we should not be concerned; we should ‘trust the Government process’, that the Minister would make an evidence-based decision only,” she said.
“Of course, we respect the rights of all individuals to voice their views on Katoomba Airfield and its future, however the final licence decision should be based on truth, fairness, respect and transparency – not lies.
Following the CES mid-2019, the Department in January informed FlyBlue that a lease would not be offered and that its licence to operate the airfield was to be terminated and replaced with a new licence that prohibited helicopter flights.
According to the Department, this was done because of community fears that joy flights would ruin the peaceful environment, even though the lease conditions proposed by FlyBlue specifically excluded joy flights and circuit training.
“The truth is the Department was in possession of FlyBlue’s full and comprehensive business plan since January 2019,” she said.
“We were continually transparent about our vision for this unique site and took measures to explicitly counter the misinformation being conveyed to the broader community, and NSW State Parliament.
“The Minister said he would make an evidence-based decision, yet the evidence the Department has relied on in its decision-making process on is based on utter lies,” she said.
FlyBlue was granted an interim licence on 28 February for “access and investigation” purposes only which precludes both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft
“All we are asking for is an independent review of the community consultation process – one that isn’t highjacked by environmentalists and activists,” Mrs Larsen said.
“With the airfield closed this will directly impact jobs, business and tourism in the Blue Mountains – especially for a community that is already hurting after the recent bushfires and Coronavirus has dealt another huge blow to local tourism.”
To sign the petition and join the fight, go to www.flyblue.com.au now to make your voice heard and keep Katoomba flying!
IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING KATOOMBA AIRFIELD OPEN:
Katoomba airfield since 1968 has held a critical role in 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.
- delivered opportunities for tourism, businesses and jobs in the local community & beyond.