Idea has wings: Queensland business Peter Lynch, who is vigorously pursuing his vision of creating a world-class airpark at the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.
Idea has wings: Queensland business Peter Lynch, who is vigorously pursuing his vision of creating a world-class airpark at the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome. David Nielsen

Airpark plans waiting for approval

QUEENSLAND businessman Peter Lynch is progressing ahead with his vision for an Evans Head Airpark, after meeting with NSW Heritage last week.

His business partner, former Ironman champion Grant Kenny, is also counting on the proposal being approved after news that his home-base, Caloundra aerodrome, may close as a result of residential noise complaints.

Mr Kenny said any closure of Caloundra Aerodrome could see most of his businesses farmed out to regional airports such as Evans Head. But his flying school would not likely survive.

“We try to be neighbourly, but we cannot help a situation where councils approve residential developmentsunder flight paths which have been there for decades,” Mr Kenny was quoted as saying to The Northern Star’s sister paper, the Sunshine Coast Daily.

He said he had sympathy for long-term residents, but found it hard to empathise with those who ‘have moved here and bought a house at the end of the runway’.

While the outcome of last week’s meeting with NSW Heritage is not known, Mr Lynch said he had strong Richmond Valley Council support for his subdivision proposal, which includes all land contained within the aerodrome.

While the council initially requested expressions of interest for about 10ha of land within the aerodrome – that closest to the existing Bellman hangar – Mr Lynch suggested a much more expansive proposal, incorporating about 27ha, saying that so far the council had not dismissed the idea.

The airpark subdivision would involve 70 private allotments and 14 industrial blocks – seven close to the runway and seven set further back.

Public space such as runways and aprons would remain available for public use, but would be privately maintained.

Richmond Valley Council planner Ken Exley said the council had been looking for an ‘income source’ to fund the aerodrome since its management plan was released five years ago.

But he warned that regardless of Mr Lynch’s plans, homes built on the aerodrome would have to comply with acoustic requirements.

Mr Exley said the simplest way to comply with that regulation was to enforce ‘fly neighbourly’ agreements which limited aircraft noise over the town of Evans Head and homes adjacent to the aerodrome.

There is currently a ‘fly neighbourly’ agreement, enforced by CASA, which prohibits low-flying aircraft above the village of Evans Head, although a number of aircraft currently breach that agreement.

Mr Exley said Richmond Valley was learning from the experience at Caloundra, where excessive aircraft noise, in particular from Mr Kenny’s helicopters, had led to residents’ complaints.

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