Call for Inquiry – NSW public land being used for airport runway expansion

Lindy Smith, Dawn Walker, Jan Barham MLC, Cr Gary Bagnall and Mayor Katie Milne visit the Crown Reserve affected by Gold Coast airport expansion

The Greens have expressed shock and called for a transparent and public inquiry regarding the approval of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the Gold Coast Airport.

Greens candidate for Richmond, Dawn Walker, said: “I am concerned to see that a runway extension has been written into the lease granted to the airport for the NSW Crown Reserve at West Tweed.

“This lease was signed between the Government and the airport without public consultation and I stand with the community in asking for the protection of public land for recreation and environmental conservation, not given away on our behalf to private interests.”

Greens MP and Crown Lands spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, said: “The approval of the Instrument Landing System (ILS ) by the federal government is a sleight of hand that will impact dramatically on protection of NSW crown land and the wellbeing of many people in the Tweed and the Gold Coast. This process is one of deception.

“The installation of an ILS is an act of subterfuge that is all about the twice defeated plans for a runway extension. The airport wants to extend the runway to allow larger and louder aircraft such as the Airbus A340 to fly over the Tweed.

“The increased aircraft traffic will come at the cost of precious public lands, including the significant Cobaki wetlands with salt marsh and fish breeding habitat destroyed. The Crown Land is reserved for ‘public recreation’ not private interest.

“I have asked questions in Parliament about how the privately owned Gold Coast Airport gained access to the lease rights over NSW Crown Land.

“The extension proposal had twice been rejected because of the impact on the Crown Land which will include wholesale clearing of public land and protected vegetation and habitat. But with the approval for the ILS by the federal government, no state laws apply and no further approval is needed by the state Minister for Crown Lands, Niall Blair.

“The NSW Government has not revealed the date of the transfer of the land to enable the airport to make the application to the Commonwealth. Concerns have been raised as to whether the lease was valid at the time of its approval. The NSW Government passed laws that allowed inconsistent land uses to be validated but it appears the lease was given one month before the legislation was introduced to Parliament.

“Local residents including the Tweed Heads Residents and Ratepayers Association are demanding an inquiry into how this public land could be transferred to a private entity to be destroyed.

“I will take concerns of the community and the Richmond Greens candidate to the Parliament and will ask further questions and present a proposal for an inquiry. It may also be that this is not an isolated issue and that needs to be investigated. The public has a right to know that public land is being managed in the public interest, not to enrich private interests,” concluded Ms Barham.

For comment:
Jan Barham MLC 0447853891
Dawn Walker, Greens federal candidate for Richmond 0411 404 588

See attachment for background information.