Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan joined with Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons on Monday to officially announce $300,000 to upgrade the Regional Airport to allow more emergency aircraft to land at the facility.
Mr Hogan said that the Clarence Valley Council received just over $1.4 m in Federal Government grants, to assist with bushfire recovery.
“Last year we were devastated by a number of bushfires in the Clarence Valley,” Mr Hogan said.
“This funding will insure we increase our preparedness for the next bushfire season,” he said.
District Manager for NSW RFS Clarence Valley, Superintendent Stuart Watts was at the Regional Airport for Monday’s announcement and said that he believes that the grant will make a great addition to the RFS firefighting capacity at the Grafton airport.
“It will make things a lot safer for both our aircraft and also commercial aircraft,” Supt Watts said.
“During the recent fires we had around 15–20 aircraft working at a time and a crew of about 20 – 30 working on the ground – so it was quite a large operation,” he said.
Clarence Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay said that council has resolved to spend $300,000 at the airport.
“It will go to increase our hard stand area for aircraft; particularly the RFS and emergency services aircraft, to park outside the exclusion zone of the airport,” Mr Lindsay said.
“During the recent bushfires this was the primary hub for the bushfire fighting aircraft.
During the bushfires the aircraft had to park inside the exclusion zone but just in the grassed area, so there wasn’t enough room for the number of aircraft that we had fighting the fires.
“So, the idea is to increase the capacity of the airport to cater for these emergencies that we might have in the future,” he said.