With the long term lease for the airport to be signed soon in February we thought it might be time to revisit it and look at some issues in relation to it.
By The Editor
Today in Part 1 we look at the issue of flooding associated with natural coastal processes and hazards and coastal management control.
A number of Councillors apparently opposed what is essentially the privatisation of the airport because they intimated they did not think the price was right among other issues.
As outlined here the agreement includes $81.5 million in fixed payments over an initial period including for the development of the Airport Enterprise Park, a 23-hectare greenfield employment precinct adjacent to the airport.
Council will also receive a share of revenue earned from both the Airport and Enterprise Park, forecast by Council to be in excess of $400 million over the term of the lease and option. Palisade will be able to take up the 49-year lease extension option after 50 years subject to a range of legal and commercial requirements being met.
However, there is a feeling that the current Covid affected aviation situation meant a buyers market existed and a better price could have been obtained in about five years time.
Nevertheless, other factors could have been at play in the final offer made by Pallisade Investments to the CHCC.
One key factor Pallisade may have taken into account as part of their due diligence could be possible flooding.
A March 2020 report done by consultants BMT WBM titled ‘Coffs Harbour Coastal Zone Management Plan’ (CZMP) outlines numerous issues Council will need to take account of given predicted rising sea levels and increased rain depressions which can cause increased flooding.
The updated 2019 CZMP for the Airport is reproduced from the report below.
As can be seen it shows what seems to be a reasonably manageable flood risk if one follows the colour key in the top left corner.
However, later on in the 143 page report the following asset risk register appears on pages 124-125.
As can be seen here there is a far less benign outlook in regards to the airport and any flood risk associated with it. Suddenly the risk is ‘extreme’ and is ongoing for the next 100 years.
Remediation work is listed as ‘immediate.’
It is important to highlight here that this refers to the airport as a whole. This means the runway, terminals and all air-side facilities too.
So any remediation being done land-side to the proposed Enterprise Park does not covere this.
Having flooded extensively in 2009 BMT are here telling Council that the airport is still a high flood risk, if not even worse.
And, along with the Pacific Highway, areas around Coffs Harbour North, Hogbin Drive, Sawtell Road and the nearby railway line are all subject to extreme flood risk now and that remediation should be done now.
As a result the question rises as to why two seemingly conflicting outcomes in relation to the airport appear in the report.
One ‘school of thought’ is that the asset risk register appears on pages 124-125 was done earlier, possibly around 2012 and was mistakenly left in the 2019 report.
Others are of a view it was left deliberately in so as to highlight ‘the real picture’ in regard to the airport and surrounding areas.
Might it not be possible that as part of their due diligence Pallisade came to the view the asset risk register that appears on pages 124-125 of the CZMP report is correct and adjusted their offer accordingly?