Recent opinion pieces featured in The Courier about the Ballarat Airport by Cr. Samantha McIntosh and Liberal politician Bev McArthur have been long on rhetoric and short on substance.
Both extol the visionary nature of spending $10m to begin the process of developing the airport as an economic driver for our future, yet both do so as visionaries with their eyes tightly shut.
They ignore the facts.
HAVE YOUR SAY BELOW
$10 million will extend the existing runway by around 700m, but because the existing 1235 metres won't be upgraded, heavier planes will not be able to use the runway without it virtually peeling up behind them.
The cost of the full runway redevelopment is north of $32 million!
The most recent business case anticipated a cost of $22.5 million, with the three levels of government contributing $7.5 million each.
So far, only the Feds have promised $5 million.
At $22.5 million, user charges were to triple.
What will they need to do for $32 million-plus and with reduced contributions from State and Federal governments?
Is it 5 or 6 times?
Will anyone even be able to afford to use the facility?
Will it be cheaper for the bulk of goods to be trucked directly to and from BWEZ?
To build the extension, the existing access road to the Airport needs relocation.
This will cost extra - $2 million for the cheapest solution; $14 million for the desirable solution that will allow ready access by B- double trucks to the BWEZ freight hub.
The route for the road means the Ballarat Light Car Club needs to be evicted and found a new home.
I expect reports to Ballarat Council meetings to have information on all these things and more.
The June 23 report had none of it.
Where is the information on the operating subsidies provided by councils in Bendigo, Wangaratta, Albury and Mildura, all of which have upgraded airports?
Is this more or less than Ballarat currently pays?
Where is the risk analysis of staging the redevelopment (not anticipated in the business case)?
Where is the advice from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority on the use of heavier planes on the unreconstructed runway?
Councillors should make commitments to Major Projects only when they are well informed.
It is not too late for them to rescind the uninformed decision made at their June 23 meeting and to put in place a thorough, eyes-wide-open assessment of the merits of this project.
If it stacks up, it should then take its chances against the more pressing issues of addressing the climate emergency and Ballarat's urban sprawl.
John Barnes, Brown Hill.