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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wings clipped: airfield in question

GAWLER Aerodrome is in danger of being closed down in the long-term future, with a report prepared for Light Regional Council floating the option of rezoning the land for commercial or residential purposes. The Nexy Residual Land Study report, compiled by developer Connor Holmes, makes a number of recommendations regarding three parcels of land owned by Light Council in close proximity to the Northern Expressway. While it states the short-term future of the airfield is safe, the site “does not have a long-term future as an aviation facility”. “It has no strategic role in the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure’s aerodrome hierarchy and is unsuitable in location and size to play a role of significance in terms of regional economic infrastructure,” the report states. “DPTI has advised that it sees no opportunity for development of the aerodrome other than for its existing gliding-centred, recreational use, together with occasional use by CFS aircraft. “DPTI also recognises that relocation of the aerodrome may provide the best outcome.” Gawler Aerodrome manager Tom Leech said the recommendations in the report were “concerning”. “Certainly, it would be horrendous to us if we lost the airfield, it would be terrible for the community as well,” he said. “It would be pretty short-sighted of the council if that’s the path they chose to take. “They would certainly have quite a fight on their hands.” The airfield has already been relocated once in 2009 when the Northern Expressway was constructed and Mr Leech said it was “one of the busiest airfields around as far as movements are concerned”. “We have a letter from the head of the Gawler CFS stating the Gawler Aerodrome is critical to CFS operations in the northern areas of South Australia…we are the only airport north of town where the air bombers can take off with a full load,” he said. “We also have air force cadets who regularly train here.” Light Council economic development manager James Miller said the idea to close down the airfield was one of a “myriad of options put up in that report”. “There would be a lot of consultation leading up to that point, before any decision is made,” he said. “What council’s aspirations for that land are…that will have to be a discussion at some point in the coming years.” Mr Leech said plans were being put in place for when the current lease runs out on the airfield in 2018. “We’re starting to try and develop a plan B if something does happen and are certainly developing a strategy on how to approach this,” he said. “If they want to move us, they would have to relocate us again.” The other two parcels of land in the study, located in between the Northern Expressway and Two Wells Road, are vacant rural paddocks, which are also being considered for residential and commercial development. At a meeting earlier this year, Light Council noted “the raft of suggested short-, medium- and long-term options for the three land parcels are the subject of the study”. It will now begin consultation with key stakeholder representatives, including DPTI, the Adelaide Soaring Club, Gawler Harness Racing Club and Gawler Council RDA Barossa. The results of the consultation will be reported back to council at a later date. Gawler aerodrome, light regional council Carl Pfeiffer Carl Pfeiffer @CarlPfeiffer9 Carl Pfeiffer has been a reporter for seven years and joined The Bunyip in February, 2014, as a senior journalist. Originally from Murray Bridge, Carl worked at the Murray Valley Standard as a journalist, sports editor and deputy editor and then was editor of The Eyre Peninsula Tribune and the West Coast Sentinel for two years. Carl then jumped at the chance to become part of The Bunyip's team. He is looking forward to embracing the Gawler community and reporting on the many happenings of the area. Carl's interests include cricket and football and he also plays drums in a band.

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