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Final relief comes for Frogs Hollow Flight School opponents

Ian Campbell 18 July 2019
Craig Richmond and Steve Jackson from Bega Valley Residents Against Frogs Hollow Flying School. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Craig Richmond and Steve Jackson from Bega Valley Residents Against Frogs Hollow Flying School. Photo: Ian Campbell.

The window has closed on any last attempt to revive plans for a flight school at Frogs Hollow, southwest of Bega.

In accordance with Section 8.10 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the six-month appeal period available to Sports Aviation Australia has expired.

Bega Valley Shire Council reports that “No appeal against the Southern Regional Joint Planning Panel’s (SRJPP) decision to uphold the recommendation to refuse the Development Application (DA) has been lodged with the NSW Land and Environment Court.”

The news has been welcomed by the resident lobby group that formed to oppose the proposal.

“As spokesperson for the Bega Valley Residents Against the Frogs Hollow Flying School, this was achieved by a sustained grassroots campaign supported by a diverse range of people – politicians from all sides of the political spectrum, our elected members of council, businesses, the farming community and one of Australia’s most recognisable brands, Bega Cheese,” says Steve Jackson.

“All joined concerned residents in expressing opposition to the proposal.”

The contentious proposal was the subject of an exhaustive assessment process undertaken by Council’s Planning and Sustainability Team that resulted in the eventual recommendation to refuse the application.

On top of the staff recommendation, Bega Valley Shire Councillors also made a collective submission to the SRJPP strongly opposing the $10.4 million proposal to develop the existing Frogs Hollow Airfield site – a submission that aligned closely with the huge community opposition.

“This process has been very challenging and brought great uncertainty and distress for many people and it is a relief this is now over,” Mayor, Kristy McBain says.

“It is fantastic to know that those living in the vicinity of Frogs Hollow can continue to enjoy their peaceful surroundings – this is absolutely the right outcome.”

Pam Allan, Chair of the Southern Region Joint Planning Panel. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Pam Allan, Chair of the Southern Region Joint Planning Panel. Photo: Ian Campbell.

The highpoint of the campaign against the proposal came in August last year when 400 people packed into the Bega Civic Centre to address the JRPP as they considered the DA.

The three-member panel heard from 45 people over a five hour period on the day, all delivering a resounding “bugger off” to the idea.

“Every 12 weeks there’ll be 360 trainee pilots, that’s 28,000 takeoffs and landings,” Bill Kershaw, Whyndham said on the day.

“Let’s be very clear, the noise levels associated with the flight school would put in doubt the continued existence of Four Winds itself,” Moira Scollay, Deputy Chair of Four Winds said.

“This is a development equivalent to a town of around 500 people. We’ve been told to expect a conservative drop in our property value of 20%,” Kerry Grant, Frogs Hollow said.

“To see some of my best dairy farmers, the future of this company impacted by this breaks my heart,” Barry Irvin, Executive Chair, Bega Cheese said.

News of the appeal window now being closed has been met with similar passion.

“It is a relief to put a final full stop at the end of what often felt like a very long sentence,” Steve Jackson says.

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