Runway extension plans that will allow larger aircraft to land at Merimbula Airport have been given the green light by the Southern Regional Planning Panel.
Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said the approval marked the start of a series of major civil works at the airport, aimed at increasing visitor numbers to the shire.
“Securing the services of two major airlines was a big win for the area, and with Southern Regional Planning Panel approval, we can begin to fully maximise the potential of this upgraded facility,” he said.
“While attracting an additional airline was a fantastic milestone, we are currently limited by the size of aircraft our runway can accommodate.
“This approval allows us to progress a 120-metre extension at each end of the runway, meaning QantasLink will be able to land Q400 aircraft at Merimbula Airport.
“Expanding seating capacity will naturally open doors for greater visitor numbers and increased investment in the shire.”
Mayor Fitzpatrick added that when the runway extension works are complete, council will begin resurfacing the entire runway and the aprons to ensure a more consistent and smooth surface for aircraft.
He said the Southern Regional Planning Panel was satisfied the proposal addressed potential impacts to the lake and surrounds through a comprehensive environmental impact statement.
“This five-year study, looking at potential impacts a development of this scale could have on local ecology, Indigenous heritage and the shellfish industry, left no stone unturned,” he said.
“We thank the NSW Government for the $4.3 million investment through its Restart NSW Regional Tourism Infrastructure Program to fund the runway extension, and the Australian Government for allocating $4.5 million through the Regional Airports Program to fund the resurfacing works.”
Bega Valley Shire Council’s project services manager, Daniel Djikic, said council will be working closely with airport users to minimise interruptions during works.
“Airlines have been informed of works to commence at the runway’s southern end early in the new financial year, and we are confident there will be no interruption to passenger and freight services during this stage of works,” he said.
“General aviation flights will be affected, and we have already contacted the Merimbula-based general aviation users and businesses operating from the airport.
“Our next step is to invite tenders for the commencement of works. We have approval for the first stage and money in the bank thanks to federal and state government grants.”