GOLD Coast Airport says its Project LIFT expansion won’t hurt vulnerable habitats in Cobaki, despite concerns from Tweed Shire Council and the Greens.
The airport’s chief operating officer, David Collins, said reports the expansion would destroy class one fisheries habitat were “not true”.
“We’re certainly not clearing any wetland,” Mr Collins said.
He said environmental offsets, which had to exist on “comparable” land which had been under threat of development, were not yet thoroughly planned, and would depend on federal Department of Environment approval.
“We’ll be looking to have it (offsets) as close as possible to the local area,” Mr Collins said.
Tweed mayor Katie Milne said she was concerned because offsets didn’t have to exist anywhere near the site.
“They can offset miles away or shires away,” Ms Milne said.
She, along with Greens candidate for Richmond Dawn Walker, was concerned that the expansion would destroy the Tweed’s recreational and commercial fishing industries, as a result of impact on Cobaki wetlands.
Ms Milne said she wanted the airport to look at alternative expansions.
Mr Collins said a northern expansion would require the relocation of 30 million litres of fuel storage, the air traffic control tower and general aviation area, while the westerly option would leave no room for taxiways. He said the latter option would drastically decrease the airport’s capabilities.
Ms Walker said Richmond MP Justine Elliot had not done enough to protect vulnerable habitats for endangered flora and fauna from becoming “a few shops and more parking”, but Ms Elliot said she was “always happy to make direct representations to the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development”.