Bega Valley community group keeps fight against flight school off the ground

Bega Valley residents attend a meeting in Wolumla on Wednesday evening to discuss the proposed flight school at Frogs Hollow. Photo: Steve Jackson
Bega Valley residents attend a meeting in Wolumla on Wednesday evening to discuss the proposed flight school at Frogs Hollow. Photo: Steve Jackson

A community group that has been fervently campaigning against a proposed flight school at Frogs Hollow met on Wednesday evening to discuss the progress of the development and their stance against it.

On February 7, around 50 people attended a meeting at Wolumla Hall to discuss the progress of the development application submitted by Sports Aviation Flight College Australia in October last year

Bega Valley Shire Council accepted public submissions regarding the flight school from November 15 to December 20.

The Bega Valley Residents Against Frogs Hollow community group put four submissions to council and another 450 submissions came from individuals in the community plus a number of petitions. 

Council forwarded the submissions in their entirety for consideration by the SJRPP. The submissions are also tabled and forwarded to Sports Aviation Flight College Australia to consider and respond to the matters raised.

On December 13, council took a strong stance against the proposed Frogs Hollow flight school and unanimously agreed to make a submission against the development to the Southern Joint Regional Panning Panel (SJRPP).

Steve Jackson is an active voice against the proposed flight school and said the mood of Wednesday’s meeting was a positive one. 

“The rejection of the DA by council has us feeling confident about the future because it shows they are on our side,” he said. 

“The feeling at the moment is promising because it would be unusual for the SJRPP to go against the views of a local council.”

Bega Valley residents concerned about the proposed flight school have been holding meetings over the last few months, including this session on November 22, 2017.

Bega Valley residents concerned about the proposed flight school have been holding meetings over the last few months, including this session on November 22, 2017.

The community group submitted two petitions to council totalling 2600 signatures, a general submission of concern and another submission directly addressing the noise issue. 

An aeronautical acoustic engineer was hired to assess the claims made in the flight school DA regarding the noise pollution of their operation.

“Essentially what they’ve submitted is not a comprehensive noise report, we knew that, but now we have the evidence to prove it to the SJRPP,” Mr Jackson said. 

The money to conduct the noise assessment, about $5,000 in total, was crowdfunded through the community group over the past few months. 

Over $8,000 has been raised through a fundraising website and offline. Mr Jackson estimates the overall lobbying effort will total $10,000. 

“We’re all working as volunteers, but there has been a really positive financial response from the community, we raised $1000 at the Wednesday meeting alone,” Mr Jackson said. 

He said individual investment from within the community outweighs any financial benefits the $10.4 million flight school claims it will bring.

“Ten million dollars is an impressive number, it catches your attention,” Mr Jackson said.

“But if you compare it to the individual investment of hundreds of people under this flight path, year after year, it’s really not that much at all.”

Now that council has taken a stance against the flight school, the group has directed their lobbying efforts towards state and federal governments. 

Mr Jackson is looking forward to speaking directly to the SJRPP at a public hearing, but a date is yet to be set by the panel due to the size and scope of the proposal.

The SJRPP has already conducted a site inspection and are expected to make a final determination on the Frogs Hollow flight school DA in the first half of 2018.

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