About Katoomba Airfield Community Group (KACG)
Katoomba Airfield Community Group seeks to preserve the serenity of the Blue Mountains for residents and visitors by incorporating Katoomba Airfield into the National Park, and to stop helicopter overflights in, and over, the World Heritage Area.
We are a community of Blue Mountains residents and businesses who are concerned about the proposal to lease this parcel of public (Crown) land to a private company for use as a commercial aerodrome and heliport.
We hold regular meetings to discuss the proposal, share our concerns and take action so that our views are taken into account in any future decision-making. Our meetings are convened in Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Blackheath and Wentworth Falls.
The flight paths of aircraft and in particular helicopters impacts all communities as well as tourism up and down the mountain.
We invite all those wishing to be a part this amazing community to email us and join us at our next get together.
One of the most important things you can say is what
you think should happen to the airfield. Given its
sensitive location, we believe the best outcome for
the community is to incorporate the airfield into
the surrounding national park for emergencies,
the reason why we wish it to be incorporated into the
Say NO to the commercialisation of Katoomba Airfield,
and YES to putting it back into the surrounding
national park, to be managed by National Parks and
Wildlife Service (NPWS) for emergency use only.
Here are some reasons (and there are many others) why we don’t
want a tourist helicopter business running out of the national park are:
Detrimental Effects On The Local Tourism Industry
The Blue Mountains is famous for its natural environment and the outdoor experiences that it offers both visitors
and locals. An estimated 1.25 million people undertake bushwalks in the Blue Mountains each year.
Landing tourist helicopters and fixed winged aircraft within World Heritage-listed national park could jeopardise the Blue Mountains experience by:
Impacting the reputation of the Blue Mountains
as a quiet and peaceful escape
Increasing noise and reducing amenity for hikers,
climbers and canyoners
Concentrating tourist dollars in fewer hands. Tourists
hat arrive or depart by helicopter are much more
likely to be dependent on a few operators for
transport and accommodation
A decrease in reputation or 'wilderness experience'
will logically result in fewer visits, meaning less spent
at local cafes, pubs, shops and retail outlets or spent
on supporting local culture and events.
Katoomba Airfield is completely surrounded by the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Within 5km of the airfield there are over 3000 native species, including those listed as endangered.
We are also concerned about the following:
The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is up for review later this year. It's status may be effected (and threatened further in combination with proposed changes to Warragamba Dam)
Damage to rare hanging swamp habitat caused by runoff and erosion from increased traffic on the unsealed section of Grand Canyon Road and the tarmacing of the runway
The potential impact of Helicopters on Blue Mountains Wildlife and other World Heritage Values (for more, see the Blue Mountains Conservation Society information: View PDF)
Lifestyle and Amenity
The liveability of upper Blue Mountains towns and villages is likely to be impacted by:
An increase in helicopters and associated noise—we already have issues with scenic flights over the area conducted by other operators. However, those helicopters do not land in or take off from within the World Heritage Area.
Helicopter noise can travel long distances in an acoustically-sensitive environment dominated by cliffs and canyons, potentially affecting parts of North Katoomba, Medlow Bath and Blackheath and other areas in earshot of the flight paths.
Any Fly Neighbourly Policy is self-regulated. The policy does not, at the admission of the lease applicant, include aircraft that do not originate from Katoomba Airfield, so that would include many arrivals.
Increased traffic along the route to the airfield (including fuel tankers and airport runway building equipment)
on a narrow local road and walking path. The road is not designed for large vehicles (Station Street, Rutland Road and Grand Canyon Road). View Route to YKAT (PDF), supplied by a local resident.
"Living in the Blue Mountains truly is the closest thing to heaven. The air is clean, the bird life spectacular, the bush has the ability to soothe the frayed nerves from the madness of the city."
- Joanne, Wentworth Falls
Concerns About The Bureaucratic Process That Got Us Here
Numerous government reports have recommended or anticipated the site should be returned to the National Park. Why has this process not occurred?
How can anyone properly engage in community consultation when we don’t know the scale of the proposed helicopter tourism operation? The state government has steadfastly refused to release the numbers of flights and their frequency to the general public.
Flight paths have only been displayed at "drop-in" sessions at Hotel Blue, but do not include intended
pathways beyond the immediate vicinity of the airfield. The proposed "hub and spoke" model means flights
will head to the Central West. Do we know these flight paths? We do not. This model may also bring in other operators further increasing activity.
Why was the community not consulted by the state government about what kind of use was appropriate for such a sensitive site before they released a tender for a licence by direct negotiation (see Expression of Interest), and awarded it to a high-impact helicopter tourism business, when community groups had also applied?
Why has public land, used by the Rural Fire Service during fire fighting operations, been licensed to a private operator to manage primarily for profit rather than for the benefit of the community?