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Council blamed for Fly-In cancellation

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The Annual Great Eastern Fly-In scheduled for early January 2012 has been called off by the Great Eastern Fly-In Committee and the Evans Head Aerodrome president is placing the blame squarely on the Richmond Valley Council.

The committee’s decision follows a review of the state of the aerodrome, which is undergoing a decontamination process and a health and safety risk assessment.

The decontamination process has made parts of the aerodrome used for parking, camping, markets, aircraft tie-down for the Fly-In unsuitable for the event.

Richmond Valley Council says the site will be ready by January but Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee president Dr Richard Gates says that predicted higher-than-average rainfall and the current impaired physical state of the aerodrome so close to the event calls this into question.

Additionally, the council has required the organisers to construct an all-vehicle, all-weather access road to a parking area on the airfield at the Fly-In’s expense. The normal parking area is not available because of the decontamination work.

The Fly-In Committee it cannot afford to undertake the work or take the risk of further damage to the airfield. It also has concerns about safety issues associated with the parking of vehicles on a runway and impact on heritage significance of the site.

It will be the second year in a row that the event has not run. This year floods caused it to be cancelled at short notice.

Dr Richard Gates today that the decision of the Fly-In Committee was ‘understandable and reasonable in the circumstances. I feel very sorry for the organisers. They’ve put a huge amount of work into this event.

‘Richmond Valley Council needs to be called to account for its failure to keep the aerodrome in a condition befitting its State Heritage Listed status. There’s no getting away from it, the aerodrome’s a mess.’

Image: Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome

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