Runway closure not so simple
CLOSURE of the existing runway at Sunshine Coast Airport would not be a simple matter because of the potentially adverse economic impacts that had not been contemplated in the Environmental Impact Statement approved ahead of the redevelopment.
That's the view of civil engineer David Tunnah who has closely studied the whole airport approval process on behalf of the Sunshine Coast Environment Council.
The fill may already have been pumped ashore to lift the new 2.4 km runway above a one-in-100-year flood occurrence while also allowing for 0.8 metres of sea level rise.
But the weight of progress on the project has not quietened concerns from both environmentalists and aviation companies.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Airport Tenants Association (SCRATA), which represents 18 businesses and their more than 400 employees, has demanded federal government intervention to ensure the current runway was retained.
SCRATA believes a decision to close it had been long made despite claims by outgoing Sunshine Coast Airport Pty Ltd CEO Peter Pallot twice last week that the runway's future would be determined during the master planning exercise now under way.
The Sunshine Coast Environmental Council has written to airport owner Palisades asking for a seat at the table during the master planning due for completion early next year and failing that, to be kept up to date on the process.
Mr Pallot last week said as part of the Master Plan process, the public display period was the time for the public and airport tenants to comment.
The public display period would be for 50 days.
Mr Pallot failed to respond as to whether a cost-benefit analysis had been done on the option of shutting the existing runway.
Mr Tunnah said the EIS in its current form did not allow the runway to be closed and it might be necessary to either apply for a variation or produce a new document for approval.
Anything can be put on the table as part of a master planning process, he said, but it would have to be consistent with the EIS.
Mr Tunnah said anything at variance with EIS, and that included further redevelopment not included in the document would require the changes to it to be approved by the Co-ordinator General.
"The operators (airport tenants) have genuine concerns that closure of the existing runway would have adverse impacts on their businesses," he said.
"SCEC supports those concerns."
Mr Tunnah said what had stuck out to him from the start was the initial assessment done for Sunshine Coast Council which had showed a minimal outlay on the existing runway would have returned far improved economic returns that the expensive project now under way.
Sunshine Coast Council has been contacted for comment.