THE future of Scone Regional Airport has been safeguarded with a vital $6.5 million in funding from the NSW Government announced today.
After visiting Singleton this morning to announce a $4.25 million roads package, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro stood alongside Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen in Scone later in the day to confirm the significant package.
The money - which is separate to a previously confirmed $6.25 million for a Scone Aviation Visitor Attraction centre - will go towards reconstruction of the runway, construction of new taxiways, expansion of the existing tarmac, installation of aeronautical lighting and an onsite car park for visitors.
Mr Barilaro said the funds come from the State Government's $170 million Drought Stimulus Package, as part of the 2019-20 NSW Budget to "fast-track significant infrastructure projects to mitigate the economic impact of the current drought".
"Scone Airport is a vital asset to the Hunter and hosts
around 4,600 landings a year from private charters, pilot training schools,
local equine, mining and farming industry flights and emergency services but its
facilities simply aren't keeping up," Mr Barilaro said.
"We know how important connectivity is for people living regionally and these improvements will allow the airport to continue to operate while jobs are generated through the expansion of commercial and aviation-related services."
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) recently brought out new safety regulations which meant that critical airport compliance upgrade funding was needed by August 2020, casting a shadow over the airport's future.
"This funding will give Upper Hunter Shire Council the ability to meet those regulations and of course stay open," Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen told The Advocate.
"And not just stay open, but thrive into the future and grow the airport precinct.
"I congratulate the Upper Hunter Shire Council on their commitment to this important project for the Hunter region."
Managing director of Pay's Air Service Ross Pay said the funding is not only good for tourism in the Upper Hunter but also secures the future of his business and the other businesses that operate at the airport.
"My business is mostly firefighting and the way the runway has been it's getting dangerous for us to take off with fully loaded firefighting aircraft so from that point of view it's going to be great," he said.
"And also for tourism, with the warbirds, it makes it a lot safer for us to operate those as well."
Mr Pay said the Scone Regional Airport is a vital asset to have in a small community.
"You just never know when that air ambulance might be coming to pick you up," he added.
"So it's great to have an asset like this."
Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood said the NSW Government funding will be met with a Council contribution of $9 million, with the total project costing around $15.5 million.
"I thank the NSW Government for their significant financial support for Scone, the airport master plan and this important project," he said.
Works are being done to finialise the Development Application for the Scone Aviation Visitor Attraction Centre with on-the-ground work to commence in around September 2019.
If all goes to plan, works will be done by August 2020, with an airshow planned for the revamped facility in September 2020.