Federal transport minister Anthony Albanese yesterday approved the planned expansion of Gold Coast Airport in the lead-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
‘The Master Plan outlines major investment in aviation infrastructure over the coming years to make sure the airport is capable of handling increased traffic from the Games and other major events,’ he said.
‘Over the next 20 years Gold Coast Airport forecasts that it will create nearly 2,500 full-time jobs, contribute almost $768 million to the economy and help bring nearly 5.5 million tourists and visitors to the region,’ he added.
Minister Albanese said he was aware of the community’s concerns about environmental issues, particularly at Coolangatta Creek, and has made it clear that the airport must ensure appropriate management of species listed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The Fingal Head Community Association says the announcement highlights the ongoing need for Tweed residents to work together to ensure the protection of their environment and quality of life.
The Association announced last week that it had engaged the Environmental Defenders Office to pursue a Freedom of Information application in the lead-up to a legal challenge to the use of the environmentally sensitive area for take-offs and landings.
Association president Dawn Walker said yesterday, ‘it is significant that the minister has acknowledged these concerns raised by our community’.
‘Our community is highly motivated. We have established a website, a petition, and will release a short film on Friday night as part of the campaign to raise funds for the legal challenge. We are working to keep our environment special for future generations.’
She said that Minister Albanese’s decision to approve the tripling of aircraft over the Tweed will not stop residents’ actions to ensure the protections of the Act are enforced.
‘The minister acknowledged that the Gold Coast Airport needs to communicate better with the local community and that he expects to see genuine engagement with the community,’ she said.
‘We are pleased that the minister has openly acknowledged the lack of community consultation and the failure to comply with the protections provided by environmental laws. These concerns have been at the forefront of the issues raised by our community.
‘The use of the Fingal Head peninsula and surrounding protected communities of the Tweed for departing international jet aircraft from Gold Coast Airport does not comply with the provisions of the federal environmental legislation.
‘Not only that, but the decision to use this environmentally sensitive area for jet aircraft was taken by an airport-appointed committee that excluded representation from Fingal Head. There was no community consultation about the proposal or the decision.’