Airport expansion considered by council

PLANS for a larger runway at Bendigo Airport, which will open up further domestic and freight opportunities for the city, are a step closer. 

City of Greater Bendigo councillors will consider a planning scheme amendment and planning permit application to enable runway development. 

The development will include construction of a 1600 metre long and 30 metre wide runway and a business park to be built on site. 

Noise and height restrictions will be required at 30 and 70 houses in the area respectively, as well as the removal of native vegetation to allow for the $19 million project to take place. 

Council planning director Prue Mansfield said while some houses would have further restrictions under the proposed amendment, the changes would only be minor. 

"A further 30 properties will have noise controls, including increased construction requirements, however these will only apply if the current houses are demolished and new houses are built," she said. 

"70 properties will also have height restrictions, and will need a planning permit to build higher than three storeys high. 

"There will also be vegetation removed to allow for clearance for the runway however there are surprisingly few implications with the project."

Council futures director Stan Liacos said the planning amendment and permit application would enable the crucial project to take place. 

"To have a city this big, and growing, with such an out-of-date airport is borderline embarrassing," he said. 

"Because of that, this project isn't going away - it's a must - and even if it doesn't happen in five years, it will happen."

City of Greater Bendigo's Phil Hansen said Bendigo was the only inland city in Victoria without regular public air transport but the new airport would open up the opportunity for scheduled domestic flights. 

He said the project would allow 70-seater planes to land at the airport, with the current capacity only servicing nine-seater planes. 

The airport can also only service planes carrying up to 5.7 tonnes of freight, but the new airport will cater for planes carrying 20 tonnes of freight. 

Council is still awaiting a $5 million funding commitment from the federal government for the project to go ahead, with $5 million from the state government and $5 million from council already committed. 

Airport Advisory Committee chair councillor James Williams said council was confident of receiving funding. 

"We are organising a meeting next month with (the federal government) to push for this funding," he said. 

"We are forging ahead and their commitment is crucial otherwise we will have to look into staging the project which is definitely not in our best interests."

Cr Williams said the project was "almost shovel ready" and council would start looking into contracts early next year, to ensure the project could get started immediately once funding was secured. 

Mr Niemann said a new, larger runway was vital if the airport was to continue catering for a growing city and region.

“Bendigo Airport is currently of a standard that is well below that of airports serving comparable populations,” he said.

“The planned works will result in significant economic benefits for our region through the creation of new job opportunities and will also ensure that the airport can continue operating as a central base for key emergency aircraft.”

Mr Niemann said the plans for the airport expansion were well-known and had been widely publicised for a number of years.

“Planning approvals will strengthen Greater Bendigo’s case for funding from the federal government so we can get on with delivering this regionally-significant project,” he said.

If supported by councillors, the Minister for Planning will be asked to approve a formal exhibition period that will enable public comment.

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