Plans to use the Murwillumbah Airfield for sky diving operations look set to be rejected by Tweed Council this week.
Gold Coast company Learn to Skydive had sought to use the airfield as a pick-up and refuelling point after its customers had been dropped over the Murwillumbah Racecourse.
The application came before the Council at its February meeting, with councillors voting to defer the matter so that Learn to Skydive could address a series of matters, including safety concerns.
But with the company failing to provide any response, Council staff have recommended the application be rejected, a recommendation that councillors appear likely to accept.
Staff have also recommended that Council resolve to discourage ongoing skydiving operations from the Airfield due to an incompatibility with existing operations.
Council will vote on the matter at this Thursday’s full council meeting.
The proposal was for the company’s aircraft to pick up parachutists each day at the Gold Coast Airport and drop them over the drop zone located at the Murwillumbah Racecourse before landing at Murwillumbah Airfield.
The plane would then reload with fresh parachutists, refuel and drop again, continuing this pattern until the last load of the day which would then return to the Gold Coast Airport.
Fresh parachutists would be brought into Murwillumbah Airfield on a mini-bus for each circuit.
The pickup vehicle would then transfer the dropped parachutists back to the Gold Coast Airport.
Tweed Council has already given approval for the company to use the racecourse as a drop zone.
Members of the public, including local pilots raised a number of concerns in relation to the proposal.
Some related to the lack of facilities including car parking, public toilets as well as pedestrian access safety.
Others expressed concerned about the proximity of the drop zone to the circuit of the Murwillumbah Airfield.
Numerous experienced pilots made submissions to the effect that this represented a ‘very clear and present risk’ given the existing airfield users.
This includes non-general Aaiation aircraft such as sports aircraft, gryocoptors, paragliders that are not required to operate radios to broadcast their position and intended actions.
Failure to respond
Given the lack of response from the company in relation to these and other issues, staff recommended that Council refuse the application due to an ‘incompatibility with existing operations’.