An application to dredge sand from North Creek at Ballina to help with the expansion of the Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport is likely to be approved by the Crown Lands department, but is by no means guaranteed.
Ballina’s general manager Paul Hickey yesterday told councilors that he had spoken with a ‘guy’ at Crown Lands last week who said it looked like the application to dredge would be approved.
But Mr Hickey said he was also told that other departments, such as environment and planning, would have to be convinced of the merits of the project.
The council wants to dredge North Creek, which has become heavily silted in recent years, and use the sand for sale and to build up industrial land for its airport expansion plans.
The council also believes dredging would help improve the health of the river, however angling groups have already expressed concern in the past that the environmental impacts would be too great.
The council’s wish to dredge is part of a broader plan to expand aero services into land it owns near the airport.
The council is in the process of trying to lease the highly profitable airport to help fund up to $50 million in improvements.
Those improvements include a $7million terminal expansion, $5 million for a new road, $15 million for a bridge across North Creek, a sports centre worth up to $15 million and $10 million to fund ramps to access developments at Cumbulum.
General manager Paul Hickey told councilors yesterday that the council had received about 30 expressions of interest from companies that could help guide the council through the leasing process for the airport
Mayor David Wright later told Echonetdaily that the airport was a $50 to $60 million asset so the council wanted to ensure it proceeded with the best expert advice.