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Byron Shire
December 1, 2022

Ballina airport leasing plan under fire

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Former councillor Margaret Howes is not happy about plans to lease the Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport. (pic courtesy of www.tecnamqld.com.au)
Former councillor Margaret Howes is not happy about plans to lease the Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport. (pic courtesy of www.tecnamqld.com.au)

Darren Coyne

Former Ballina shire councillor Margaret Howes is shaping up for a ‘dogfight’ over a plan to lease out the Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport.

In a submission to this week’s council meeting, Ms Howes said leasing the airport would create noise issues for residents in the flight path.

‘Every morning I experience the whine of Jetstar flying overhead my home on its way to land at Ballina airport,’ she said.

‘I know this is the beginning of the noise problem if the council leases the airport.

‘After all, it would be leased on the basis of being a money-maker and that means increasing aviation activity.’

Ms Howes, who is a pilot herself, said people in the flight path of the Gold Coast Airport were already in organized lobby groups to stop the noise there.

‘The Gold Coast airport is loaded with flying schools training overseas students, and a scheduled passenger jet landing and taking off every five minutes,’ she said.

‘Ballina has already got the parachute planes droning their way up to 14,000 feet, as the Gold Coast doesn’t want them.

‘What does Ballina get out of this?’

She said the parachute plane operators bring their clients down from the Gold Coast in a stretched limo, they jump from a plane, and then head back to the Gold Coast sipping champagne with ‘not a cent spent in Ballina’.

Ms Howes is hoping her submission does not fall on deaf ears when Ballina councillors hold their first meeting of the year on Thursday.

At that meeting, the council will decide whether to accept a tender from ‘The Airport Group’ to oversee the leasing of the airport.

After reviewing submissions, staff have recommended that The Airport Group’s tender should be accepted to undertake a scoping study of the long term leasing options of the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport for the amount of $110,000.

The recommendation would give the council the ‘right to not proceed to Stage 2 of the contract, and retain the right to call for fresh tenders for Stage 2, subject to further negotiations with The Airport Group in respect to any bonus paid above an agreed transactional value for Stage 2’.

Echonetdaily reported last week that council is expected to appoint a consultant to drive and oversee the leasing of the airport, which currently receives about 500,000 passengers a year.

Cr Wright said improvements to facilities at the airport would increase that number to around 750,000 a year, making it the second largest regional airport in New South Wales behind Newcastle.

Cr Wright confirmed that Ballina would be applying for $6 million from a $50 million funding package announced by the state government last week to upgrade regional airports.

He said the funding would be used to triple the size of the departure terminal, build more shops, toilets and a sports bar.

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  1. I find it almost hysterically funny that former councillor, Margaret Howes finds it objectionable on the grounds of noise pollution, given her flying pastime. As for the parachutists being bought down from the Gold Coast by limousine and not spending a cent in Ballina, well that says a lot more about what Ballina has to offer doesn’t it? They probably head back up to the Gold Coast via Byron Bay, as do most of the people who fly into Ballina now. Ballina is a very boring place this shouts. I wonder why? When it has lovely Beaches, a Beautiful River and Caravan Parks for people to stay in. I say once again, Ballina lift your game and attract some Tourists with money by increasing your amenities and offering something other than boring multi chain shops in shopping centres and brick veneer houses. Oh right, Ballina doesn’t want tourism, sure it wants to be one of the most beautiful locations on the coast with a dying population. The main street is a fine example of letting narrow minded people govern your council, dead, dead, dead.


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