Tweed residents and the Greens want a public inquiry into how public land is being transferred to the Gold Coast Airport, allowing the runway to be extended.
They say a Federal Government approval of an ‘Instrument Landing System’ at the airport is an ‘act of subterfuge’ that is all about the twice defeated plans for a runway extension.
Richmond Greens candidate Dawn Walker said she was concerned that a runway extension had been written into the lease granted to the airport for the NSW Crown Reserve at West Tweed.
‘This lease was signed between the Government and the airport without public consultation and I stand with the community in asking for the protection of public land for recreation and environmental conservation, not given away on our behalf to private interests,’ Ms Walker said
Greens MP and Crown Lands spokesperson, Jan Barham said the approval of the ILS by the federal government was a sleight of hand that would impact dramatically on protection of NSW crown land and the wellbeing of many people in the Tweed and the Gold Coast.
‘This process is one of deception,’ she said.
‘The airport wants to extend the runway to allow larger and louder aircraft such as the Airbus A340 to fly over the Tweed.
‘The increased aircraft traffic will come at the cost of precious public lands, including the significant Cobaki wetlands with salt marsh and fish breeding habitat destroyed.
‘The Crown Land is reserved for ‘public recreation’ not private interest.
Ms Barham said she had asked questions in Parliament about how the privately- owned Gold Coast Airport had gained access to the lease rights over NSW Crown Land.
‘The extension proposal had twice been rejected because of the impact on the Crown Land which will include wholesale clearing of public land and protected vegetation and habitat,’ she said.
‘But with the approval for the ILS by the federal government, no state laws apply and no further approval is needed by the state Minister for Crown Lands, Niall Blair.
‘The NSW Government has not revealed the date of the transfer of the land to enable the airport to make the application to the Commonwealth.
‘Concerns have been raised as to whether the lease was valid at the time of its approval.
Ms Barham said the NSW Government had passed laws that allowed inconsistent land uses to be validated but it appeared the lease was given one month before the legislation was introduced to Parliament.
‘Local residents including the Tweed Heads Residents and Ratepayers Association are demanding an inquiry into how this public land could be transferred to a private entity to be destroyed,’ she said.
‘I will take concerns of the community and the Richmond Greens candidate to the Parliament and will ask further questions and present a proposal for an inquiry. ‘It may also be that this is not an isolated issue and that needs to be investigated. The public has a right to know that public land is being managed in the public interest, not to enrich private interests.’