The Scone Regional Airport Aviation and Visitor Attraction Centre is one step closer.
The Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel has given Development Approval to the project with the panel voting unanimously in favour of the project with minor amendments to some of the conditions of consent.
A public meeting was held by the Planning Panel in Scone this week with a majority of speakers in favour of the project.
Upper Hunter Shire Council Mayor Wayne Bedggood thanked the many community members who have supported the airport upgrade.
“Well done to everyone – Council staff, community members and airport users - involved and working on this investment in a sustainable economic future for our region,” Mayor Bedggood said.
“The next step is to finalise the Review of Environmental Factors on the desperately needed airside facilities, and the construction tender process, so that we can start building.”
Council's General Manager Steve MacDonald said there comes a time when they have to decide to invest in the Shire, and this is one.
"There are times when Council – and specifically Councillors - have to decide if we will invest to upgrade ageing infrastructure and grow local industries, or do nothing and let facilities close and jobs go,"
"If we don’t invest in this Shire, we can’t expect anyone else to," he said.
There are some members of the community who believe the money being spent is unnecessary and that drought money from the government shouldn't be used for the project at all.
"There are a small number of vocal opponents who do not believe this is achievable or necessary and they are entitled to their opinion, however we are working on the advice from comprehensive reports conducted by independent experts in finance, engineering and aviation. Council has undertaken all due diligence in planning, approvals and Government funding of this project," said Steve MacDonald.
"The NSW Government's $170 million Drought Stimulus Package funds shovel-ready infrastructure projects with the objective of “delivering economic stimulus for local economies experiencing the flow-on effects of the drought”,"
"The Scone Airport project was assessed by the NSW government as supporting the community by generating local jobs and stimulating the local economy. The funding was provided specifically for the Airport and Council cannot allocate it to other projects," he said.
No amount of money is going to make it rain. Drought Stimulus Funding creates additional jobs and economic activity that benefits all the community.
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen welcomed the planning approvals as a major step forward in the development of the Scone Airport.
“I welcome the decision and the long term benefits for Scone and the Upper Hunter in providing jobs and attracting visitors to our area. This development allows for the continued diversification of our local Upper Hunter economy and a bright future,” he said.
The $23.5M project includes airside work to meet Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requirements and construction of a new terminal and Warbird Aviation Visitor Attraction. The project is funded through grants from the NSW Government ($6.5M from the Drought Stimulus Package and $6.25M from Restart NSW Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund) and a $10.75M loan taken by Upper Hunter Shire Council.
Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse