THIS afternoon the Hunter and Central Coast Planning Panel approved Council’s development application for the construction of a terminal, warbird museum and car park at Scone regional airport.
The Panel stressed that their decision did not include broader concerns about the air side upgrades, which is part of a different process, or the financial investments of Council.
The Panel recommended 10 points in the DA to be revised before work proceed.
The Council’s representative, Joanne McLoughlin, was asked by the Panel if any aspects of the DA they were to assessing were dependent on other works at the airport with separate approvals.
Ms McLoughlin said there were not, but pointed out that if the runway was not upgraded, there would be no point in doing the current DA.
The Panel further sought clarification on the hours of construction, stipulating that they did not believe works should be carried out on a Sunday and construction on Saturday should only be a half day.
The main objection specific to the DA was from landowner, Peter Willard, who raised concerns of flooding and contamination of his land, which had not been addressed by Council in the previous nine years.
“Council knew of flooding and contamination of my property, but did nothing,” Mr Willard told the panel.
Mr Willard showed photos to the Panel of the water and contamination runoff pooling on his property and said he was concerned the works involved with the DA would provide more runoff onto his property.
The Panel asked several questions of Council on how this could be better managed, but ultimately were confident it could be managed.
Other speakers included Matt Clark, Scott Shan, Michael Burke and Matt Baker who all spoke in support of the significant economic benefits the overall project would bring to the region.
Conflicts of Interest
Before the meeting began, the chair, Jason Perica made note that the Panel usually consisted of two representatives from Council, including Mayor Wayne Bedggood and general manager Steve McDonald.
Both the Mayor and general manager stood aside as members of the panel as they had voted to put forward the application at Council, so their participation could be perceived as a conflict of interest.
The alternate members from Council, Cr Joshua Brown and Cr Sue Abbott, also declined being members of the panel for the same reasons.
However, Cr Sue Abbott registered to speak at the hearing and the Panel had to deliberate if she was allowed to speak, as regular members of Planning Panels were not allowed to be speakers.
Cr Abbott said she had never sat on a panel and was happy to resign her position in order to speak.
The Panel agreed that since Cr Abbott had never sat on a panel and had no working relationship with any members of the Panel, she was allowed to speak.
Cr Abbott focused on the socio-economic impacts of the proposed development and her concerns that the development was not in the public interest.