A collection of Katoomba-based aviation licensees have called for a review of the NSW government decision not to proceed with lease negotiations for the Katoomba Airfield.
Following the cancellation of the aerodrome licence on 28 February, which rendered the airfield shut, Capertee Valley farmers and licensees Floyd and Derek Larsen continue to raise issues with the state government regarding the validity of its community consultation process (CES).
In response, the Blue Mountains aviation community has called on the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, to review their decision because they claim the community consultation leading up to the decision to cancel the licence wasn’t fair.
FlyBlue director Floyd Larsen said they went to great efforts to counter the misinformation being perpetrated in the local community during the CES, with assurances from both NSW Crown Lands and the NSW state government.
“We were repeatedly assured that we should not be concerned; we should ‘trust the government process’, that the minister would make an evidence-based decision only,” she said.
Following the CES in mid-2019, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in January informed FlyBlue that a lease would not be offered and that its licence to operate the airfield was to be terminated and replaced with a new licence that prohibited helicopter flights.
Larsen added, “Of course, we respect the rights of all individuals to voice their views on Katoomba Airfield and its future, however the final licence decision should be based on truth, fairness, respect and transparency.”
According to the department, this was done because of community fears that joy flights would ruin the peaceful environment, even though the lease conditions proposed by FlyBlue specifically excluded joy flights and circuit training.
“With the airfield closed this will directly impact jobs, business and tourism in the Blue Mountains – especially for a community that is already hurting after the recent bushfires and coronavirus has dealt another huge blow to local tourism,” Larsen explained.
For further information about the Katoomba Airfield or to sign the petition, go to www.flyblue.com.au.