Dear PAC Members and Residents,
I wish to clarify via a public statement the Peninsula Aero Club’s position in terms of some rumours and misinformation specific to the aero club regarding noise, expansion and our issues with the Shire.
Let me relieve your fears and remove any doubt in relation to expansion or change. There is no expansion or growth planned at the airport, full stop. It is business as usual as it has been for many years.
In in the interest of full transparency, I offer anyone, including our Councillors, and whoever is spreading fear and uncertainty, and who may wish to know more, an opportunity to make contact and ask for themselves any questions they like.
The airport has been operational for almost 60 years, it employs about 100 people, and we provide free of charge emergency services facilities to support Police, Air Ambulance and firefighting.
The Shire contributed $150,000 towards a new helipad and an emergency access road, which formed part of a $600,000 project which included an emergency medical and triage centre as well as a fuel facility to support emergency aircraft services. This was funded by the members as a gift to the community to make all our lives safer. The helipad has attracted more emergency helicopters, which has saved many lives on the Peninsula and both bays over the past couple of years. This helipad is twice as far away from the residents’ property than it used to be, despite claims that it is closer.
Facts about our future operations.
- There are no plans to expand the airport operations to increase the number of aircraft movements. There is no physical possibility for our airport to ever become a Moorabbin. Our total annual flights represent less than 3 weeks of Moorabbin.
- There are no plans, nor have there ever been any plans, to introduce a jet operation at the airport. Our Permits prohibit jets, it’s not legally possible to facilitate jets.
- There are some restrictions on night flying which represents about 1% of our total operations. There are no plans to increase night operations. The restrictions are enforceable by law and prevent aircraft over 2041kgs from night operations.
- There are no plans to increase the length or width of the runways. However, there is a plan to widen the sealed section of the grass and bitumen main North South runway to improve safety. This will not change the profile of aircraft approved to use the airport by day or night. It will not change the frequency of use, nor the size of aircraft permitted to use Tyabb Airport.
- There are no plans to build a new East West runway. We already have an East West runway which is rarely used and then only when weather conditions make it a safer option than our main North South runway.
- There are fewer aircraft take offs and landings today than during the 70s and 80s; our claims are supported by Victorian government statistical reports. The claims by some, including the Shire, that our movements are increasing are completely false. There is no basis to these claims. In fact our flying school records show it has decreased over the years. This is not to say it will not organically grow over time, but there are no plans to further develop the airport.
- There are more emergency helicopter movements today than in recent times, but fewer private rotary wing aircraft. However, further into our past, there were more emergency helicopter movements as PAC was the birth place of the Angel of Mercy, being the world’s first civilian air ambulance. This was so successful it was taken over by the State Government and has been replicated around the world.
Battle with the Shire.
PAC has taken the Shire to VCAT twice this year, once to have them remove an unlawful condition they attempted to apply to a simple permit amendment to relocate a tractor shed. This amendment would have effectively given the Shire complete control over the airport to apply any restriction they felt fit through the use of an Airport Master Plan. VCAT confirmed this was unlawful and ordered the condition removed.
The second VCAT hearing had its roots about 2 years ago when the Shire planners suggested we apply to have the “Church hour” condition removed from our permits. Their reasoning was that the condition was redundant given that the relevant church had ceased to operate as a church. Their lawyers gave us the forms to achieve this and we lodged them as directed. Shortly after we lodged the applications, we were called to the Shire offices and told that they would waive the fees if we would withdraw the applications and make new ones under Section 72. We were assured that no additional conditions would be attached to the new applications.
Unfortunately, the planners then recommended that additional conditions would be added and we were forced to withdraw and lodge the application. In VCAT we argue that this restriction is redundant, and there will be no change to the amenity if we continue to fly for this hour because it has been ignored for more than 45 years, with the verbal agreement of the Shire. If it is enforced it will cause safety issues and noise issues, as aircraft will have to take-off before the “Church hour” and returning aircraft may have to be put into a holding pattern over Tyabb waiting to land. We are waiting on VCAT to rule on this and hope to hear shortly.
Now the Shire is seeking to prosecute the club and other airport users claiming that we do not have permits to operate an airfield, flying school, an aero club and various other operations and businesses. We say this is a nonsense as we have all the required permits, which have been ratified by 2 State Planning Ministers, 2 Planning Panels, and several VCAT and other tribunal hearings.
We have been overwhelmed by the local support we have received. To show its support, a community member opened a petition and more than 22,000 people signed. With this huge response, it’s clear that some of these signatories were outside of the immediate area, which shows how far afield Tyabb’s airport is known, but apparently most were on the Peninsula.
If it hadn’t been for the Community, we would not have been able to hold the 2020 airshow and would not have been able to make contributions of $60,000 to local causes. I sincerely thank everyone who got behind us.
PAC also started a parliamentary petition to reject the Shire’s request to the Minister to change our Planning Scheme, which was supported by 5470 people and at the time was the 3rd largest Parliamentary Petition every presented to the Parliament. We are hopeful that People Power will prevail and stop this complete nonsense and bully tactics by the Shire.
Finally PAC has no plans to make any material changes in the way of aircraft traffic. We will continue to support flight training, emergency services and being a force for good locally with our charity works and community involvement.
We need to protect our local jobs and ensure that people have a right to work without being bullied and threatened. Our operations have not changed, but people come and go, and should accept the environment they move into. The airport has global recognition, and it is an important part of the Tyabb township, and has been so for nearly 60 years.
President – Peninsula Aero Club