By Anita McInnes
RAAF Pearce and Gingin air bases are likely to be excluded from a list of potential future airport sites according to Planning Minister John Day.
Recent media reports said Pearce and Gingin air bases were being targeted as possible sites for Perth’s second airport but this week a spokeswoman from Mr Day’s office said the government was identifying broad land areas potentially suitable for aviation use, followed by more detailed investigations to identify potential sites.
She said the Departments of Planning and Transport, together with the Western Australian Planning Commission, were conducting very preliminary investigations to identify suitable locations for potential future airport sites, as outlined in the Western Australian State Aviation Strategy.
“The study area is defined as the Perth metropolitan and Peel regions and adjacent local government areas,’’ she said.
“RAAF Pearce and RAAF Gingin are included as they are part of the study area however, would more than likely be excluded because of their airspace and air navigation requirements.’’
The Department of Defence said the Australian Government was committed to allowing civil access to military airfields where it could be balanced with Air Force and Defence’s need for security, operations and training.
A department spokesman said Pearce was not a suitable alternative civilian airport because operations at the airfield were not compatible with civilian airline operations.
“Pearce is one of Defence’s busiest and most complex airfields and it operates using very specialised air traffic procedures to allow for the large quantity and type of air traffic,’’ he said.
“Gingin airfield is located 30 kilometres north of Pearce and used for overflow training traffic.
“In an aircraft emergency, large commercial aircraft could request air traffic control permission to land at Pearce.
“However, the base does not have the necessary infrastructure to support civilian airline operations – including the ability to park civilian aircraft, off-load passengers, process baggage and refuel civilian aircraft.’’
The City of Swan said the State Government had not contacted the city about putting a future airport at Pearce air base or at any other site in the city.
Acting chief executive officer Mark Bishop said in relation to media reports that councils around Perth Airport continued to approve housing developments close to flight paths the city adhered to Australian Standard 2021 (acoustics – aircraft noise intrusion – building siting and construction) when considering such applications.
He said the standard provided a critical framework for managing land use and development outcomes in the vicinity of airports.
“Aircraft noise exposure areas are designated within the city’s local planning scheme and require residential development within them to be subject of a planning application process,’’ he said.
Mr Day said while the need for a second general and civil airport in Perth may not arise for 20 to 30 years, if at all, it was important to plan now for the state’s long-term aviation needs.