SKAAG relieved by college's decision to withdraw development applications

The Save Kempsey Airport Action Group (SKAAG Inc.) welcomes the decision by the Australian International Aviation College (AIAC) to withdraw Development Applications which sought to increase pilot training operations at Kempsey Airport.

President of SKAAG Inc. Adam Ulrick said the decision by AIAC was a relief for residents across the entire Macleay Valley who have been detrimentally affected by AIAC’s intrusive pilot training operations.

“It is unclear as to exactly why AIAC withdrew the Development Applications and SKAAG Inc. remains vigilant but cautiously optimistic that such a proposal never resurfaces in the Macleay Valley,” Mr Ulrick said.

There were two Development Applications in play. One was lodged over 12 months ago and sought to build an $18 million training facility at the airport. This DA sat with the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (NJRPP) for determination. AIAC never followed this up and did not provide the additional information sought by the Panel.

The other DA was a request to council in April to amend an existing DA to allow an increase in operating hours.

This latter DA was subject to independent assessment and was to be determined by council. Both have been withdrawn and require no further determination by council or NJRPP.

“We can only speculate as to whether the report by the independent assessor regarding the most recent Development Application influenced AIAC’s decision to withdraw both DAs” Mr Ulrick said.

He said it was in the public interest that the outcome of the independent assessor’s report be released by Kempsey Shire Council. .

The Macleay Argus has been unable to contact Aviation College head of operations Kevin McMurtrie as he is overseas.

Mr Ulrick said SKAAG Inc. remains committed to developing a Noise Management Plan and Fly Neighbourly Agreement through the Kempsey Airport Reference Group.

The group also strongly supports the development of a Master Plan for the airport and the Department of Planning & Environment initiative to develop a State Environment Planning Policy to ensure residents around small rural airports are protected from the encroachment of inappropriate aviation activities.

“Our message remains clear - mass pilot training is not compatible with the residential, agricultural and tourism interests in the Macleay Valley,” Mr Ulrick said.

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