Mayor forced out of 'critical' airport talks
MAYOR Mark Jamieson was forced to remove himself from special talks on the Sunshine Coast Airport's expansion, which was dominated by critical deadlines, potential delays and the threat of a $10.5 million blow-out.
Cr Jamieson had received legal advice that he would be unable to take part in the Region Making Projects special meeting due to a conflict of interest.
He declared as the Local Government Association of Queensland president he was a representative of LGIAsuper, which held a 32 per cent stake in the airport.
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Councillor Jason O'Pray said the mayor's inability to vote on, or discuss, the airport was "ridiculous" and a "step too far".
Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion director Ross Ullman told the meeting the past quarter on the project had been dominated by delays due to heavy rain at the site and the public backlash over flight paths.
Mr Ullman produced aerial photographs of the construction site that showed water pooled across large sections of the runway.
The worst-hit areas were where top-soil had been removed and dug out to about half a metre.
Mr Ullman said above-average rainfall in March-April had had impacted "critical activities" which resulted in a "scaled-back" construction arrangements with the contractor and their sub-contractors.
He was adamant despite some delays, work was on track and the new runway would be fully operational by December 2020 as planned.
Mr Ullman also downplayed concerns over the presence of the fire-fighting foam PFAS, which he categorically denied posed any risk to human safety despite containing traces of toxic chemicals.
He said levels were up to a million times less than at Brisbane and Sydney's airport and that the expansion team was working with relevant authorities in "rigorous investigations".
"We are now up to version five of the (PFAS) management process, and version five will incorporate more recent information available... to better inform the framework again," he said.
Mr Ullman said Airservices Australia, the authority responsible for the final airspace design, was in the process of assessing the almost 3300 submissions on the new flight paths.
Responses would need to be completed by June, a deadline Mr Ullman said was critical under the requirements of Aeronautical Information Regulation And Control.
If they were not, the opening could be delayed by six months, which he said would cost about $10.5 million in adjusted contractor fees.
In response to questions regarding alternative flight paths, Mr Ullman said the proposed approach and departure between the Marcus Beach and Castaways Beach areas would leave about 5000 households "better off".
He said in a "worst-case scenario", planes would approach at 3500 feet, and depart at a minimum of 3500-4000 feet.
Mr Ullman said an approach or departure to the south and south-west would interact with the controlled airspaces of four nearby neighbours in the greater Brisbane area.
Mr Ullman said though not his expertise, he had the "gut feeling" this would leave a large number of people worse off.
During the meeting, a member of the Flight Path Forum took notes to relay to members of the group who had objected to the proposed flight paths which cross areas of the Noosa Shire.