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Old 18th Jun 2019, 09:12
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1a sound asleep
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
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https://www.theaustralian.com.au/bus...0a23d0cf8c8f34

The future of a regional Victoria airfield is on the line today when a council sits down with local pilots to resolve the curious case of missing operating permits.

Many of the 11 businesses at the Tyabb Airfield on the Mornington Peninsula have operated on the site since the late 1960s, when the only rule they had to observe was no flying between 9.30am and 10.30am on Sundays for church.

The church is now a cafe and has been for 28 years, but in *response to lobbying from residents, council sought to add a condition to the airfield extending the curfew from dusk on Saturday to 9am on Sunday.Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor David Gill said that was when they discovered permits did not exist for businesses such as the Peninsula Aero Club flying school. In response “cease and desist” notices were distributed to various landholders on the airfield site, instructing them to stop work until appropriate permits were found.

“We are not trying to shut down an airport,” Mr Gill said.

“We’re trying to help them do the things they want to do but it has to be along the same lines as every other business in Australia has to. It’s pretty simple.”

Mr Gill said the council was simply trying to follow due process and a curfew was a reasonable starting point. “For years the situation has been 24 hours, seven days a week of flying. We’ve been hard-pressed to find an airport in Australia that operates like that. Not even Sydney operates like that,’’ he said. Peninsula Aero Club president Jack Vevers said it was an extraordinary situation based on the dislike of the airfield by a “vocal minority” within the community.

“What (council) did unexpectedly and without warning was they walked in and dropped all these stop-work notices on ourselves at the aero club and a number of businesses that operate at the airport and have been operating for more than half a century,” Mr Vevers said.

“It was brutal and abrupt with no explanation other than a few lines in these letters which were technically poorly produced.”

He said a “minor planning issue” had been turned into a huge social problem that threatened the livelihoods of 100 people working at the site.

“Many businesses have been here for so long they transcend the planning scheme. But you can’t just suddenly walk in and close them up,” Mr Vevers said.

Helicopter Resources managing director Bill English said the “cease and desist” notice would prevent his business from maintaining helicopters on site.

“It so happens we don’t have anything in the workshop at the moment but it will affect our *future,” Mr English said. “We have another workshop in Hobart so that’s always an option (to relocate work there) but that would be *disruptive to a lot of people.” Mr Vevers said the airfield was of vital importance to the Mornington Peninsula, which had a population of 164,000 but received seven million visitors a year.

“A lot of things hang off the success of the airport; it’s really having a significant impact on the town,” Mr Vevers said. “People want to trust their council but it’s frightening to think a council has the power to not be looking after people but destroying their livelihoods in such an *abrupt way without discussion.”

Mr Gill denied the council was being manipulated by a vocal minority. “Council’s not influenced by who makes the loudest noise,” he said.

“If there’s anyone who makes a lot of noise it’s the airfield because they don’t like what’s happening.”
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