Angst over flying school plans

Drew Done, president of the Frogs Hollow Flying Club.
Drew Done, president of the Frogs Hollow Flying Club.

A number of submissions are expected to be made to the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) regarding the proposed $10.4million development of Frogs Hollow airfield as a flying school primarily for Chinese students.

Submissions open Wednesday, November 15 and are likely to include representations from local residents and the Frogs Hollow Flying Club who have used the airstrip for more than 12 years.

A DA has been submitted to Bega Valley Shire Council but must be assessed by the JRPP because of the value – the development is estimated at $10.4 million and the purchase of the land from the current owner is believed to be $5 million. The sale of the land is subject to receiving development approval.

Drew Done president of the Frogs Hollow Flying Club said the development would affect the club because the clubhouse and some hangars may have to be relocated due to widening of the runway.

“We have been offered a piece of land for relocation but as yet have no details on leasing arrangements or cost,” Mr Done said.

He was at pains to stress that none of the club members had any objection to the owner Eric Johnson, selling the land.

The plan for the flight school targets a growing interest in aviation in China, and is being driven by a company called Sports Aviation Australia (SAA). The company’s CEO is Mitch Boyle, and his father Norm Boyle is the project consultant and has been liaising with the flying club.

Pilot instructor and Sports Aviation Australia CEO Mitch Boyle.

Pilot instructor and Sports Aviation Australia CEO Mitch Boyle.

The flying club has operated from Frogs Hollow for over 12 years and has always enjoyed a good relationship with Mr Johnson. Members have known for many years that he wished to sell his land and don’t wish to hinder that process.

However there are concerns about how matters will pan out should the DA be granted. SAA will have the option to try and raise the capital needed or to sell the land and DA as a package to the highest bidder.

Nearby residents are also worried about the proposal believing that property values may be impacted, personal privacy breached during flights, and lifestyles changed due to the constant flights. There is also concern about lack of consultation with residents so far.

Anyone wishing to make a submission should check both council website and its DA Tracker plus the JRPP’s website.