Sunshine Coast Airport flood, money worries up in the air
A MUDJIMBA residents group believes there are serious question marks over the proposed new runway at the Sunshine Coast Airport, including its long-term financial viability and environmental impact.
But Sunshine Coast Council is fervent in its belief the project will be a game changer for the local economy.
"The Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion project will help boost tourism and international trade because the expanded airport will potentially cater for up to two million more passengers each year," a council spokesman said.
"It will help our export businesses, particularly those operating in the agricultural sector, to get their products and services to markets faster and more efficiently."
Residents for Responsible Development (ResDev), an arm of the Mudjimba Residents Association Inc, feel many important questions remained unanswered.
ResDev chairman Charles Toms believed the numbers simply didn't stack up on the project and he criticised what he said had been a lack of consultation over the planned $347 million upgrade which would create a new, 2450m long, 45m wide NW-SE runway.
Mr Toms said the demand for the project was not there and he believed an international airport so close to Brisbane would not work.
However Twin Waters Residents Association president Rob Ruskin said the expansion was desperately needed to help inject fresh life into the Coast's tourism industry, especially for towns north of the Maroochy River.
"We're very much in support of it. It just has to happen," Mr Ruskin said.
When asked about concerns over possible flooding implications the construction of the new runway may have on surrounding suburbs, Mr Ruskin said he believed hydrologists were aware of what was needed to mitigate the risks.
He said the new runway would create a large number of jobs, and could also attract overseas business to the Coast.
ResDev sub-committee member and aviation enthusiast Peter Sorensen said he held concerns about the effect that the new runway - what he described as, in-effect, a 4.6m high wall being constructed - would have on nearby homes during major floods.
"We can't risk major changes to flood capacity on that flood plain," he said.
He feared the new runway would displace water and disrupt flows from Mt Coolum, potentially affecting Yaroomba, Marcoola, Twin Waters and other suburbs as floodwaters were dispersed in different flows than historically experienced.
"We, south of the airport, have a run-off problem in that all of the water in the airport has to go somewhere," Mr Sorensen said.
The council spokesman said any impacts on flood behaviour would be relatively minimal.
"The new runway has been designed to maintain a Q100 flood immunity to the year 2100," the spokesman said.
"In all modelled events, the project will have negligible increase in flooding of less than 10mm, other than for an area of already flood-affected Marcoola North, which would experience a small increase in peak flood levels of less than 18.5mm in a 100 year event.
"Further survey work in this area indicates that five properties may experience flooding impacts of between 17mm and 18mm."
Mr Sorensen, who was involved in aviation for 40 years, both as a private pilot and in other roles, said he was not against airports and had long ago accepted the noise associated with living under a flight path.
But he said he could not see how an expanded Sunshine Coast Airport would be able to remain competitive for airlines by offering affordable landing charges.
He feared ratepayers could end up subsidising any shortfall.
A Sunshine Coast Council spokesman said the upgraded airport would remain competitive, despite its proximity to Brisbane, which itself was being upgraded.
"The Sunshine Coast Airport will continue to be a viable airport from which more airlines will be able to operate from with the proposed expansion," the spokesman said.
"More importantly, with the expansion of the Sunshine Coast airport, our residents will not need to travel to Brisbane to access flights that could operate from the Sunshine Coast.
"The opportunity to operate without the operational constraints of a runway that is too short, too narrow and not into wind means that the airport will be able to deliver even stronger passenger numbers and economic and financial benefit to the Sunshine Coast."
- 3500 fewer dwellings to be affected by noise each day (2020).
- Contributes $4.1 billion to the value of the economy (2020-40).
- Generates more than 2230 jobs (2020-40).
- Ensures the region has a functional airport for jet aircraft into the future.
- Will enable more direct flights to more locations in Australia and across the globe.
- Will provide access for larger, more fuel-efficient aircraft.