A proposed $10 million instrument landing system for Coolangatta airport to be built just inside Tweed shire will come at a big environmental cost, according to Tweed Shire Council.
The proposed facility for an array of antenna and new road to be built on the Cobaki wetland just south of the airport, could wipe out a large remnant of highly-protected salt-marsh habitat for endangered migratory birds and marine life.
It is part of the airport’s proposed redevelopment which also includes doubling the width of the existing 150-metre runway, as well as establishing new flight paths over Gold Coast areas.
The major airport development has sparked controversy across the border on the Gold Coast, where business and tourism operators say its essential for the growing city, but many are not happy to see it will divert more aircraft noise over many highly-populated areas there.
Operators of Gold Coast Airport say the landing system’s installation will improve the reliability and safety of aircraft in poor weather and reduce diversions to other airports in those times, when around 50 flights are diverted each year as a result.
Airservices Australia is currently taking submissions from both local government areas straddling the border, as the proposed runway widening and new landing system are planned to the south or airport land and cut into NSW crown land at Cobaki.
(The installation is covered under federal legislation under the Air Services Act which provides total exemption from state and local government planning controls.)
Tweed council’s planning chief Vince Connell recommended a submission to be prepared identifying the potential adverse ecological impacts associated with the installation of the landing system’ s antenna component.
Councillors unanimously approved the recommendation last Thursday.
Work on NSW land includes vegetation clearing for a ground pad 200 metres long by 90 metres wide to set up the antenna facility, a 10-metre-square concrete pad for the monitor antenna, and a four-metre wide access road.
In his environmental assessment, Mr Connell raised concerns over the airport operator’s draft plan’s conclusion that impacts would be ‘minor or moderate’.
He said proposed removal of 3.5 hectares of salt marsh, listed as vulnerable or endangered under federal and state law, took away ‘the largest and most valuable single remaining patch’ of the salt marsh community in Cobaki Broadwater.
More to come