In a bid to save Katoomba Airfield from development, the Blue Mountains Conservation Society has co-ordinated an open letter to Melinda Pavey, NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing, which is published in the Sydney Morning Herald today (June 21).
The letter explains the impact the proposed commercial lease, that included helicopter flights, would have on the surrounding World Heritage Area, especially the Grand Canyon and Grose Valley, as well as nearby towns.
It calls on the minister to uphold the original decision to decline a commercial lease over the Airfield and asks that the NSW government has the site added to the Blue Mountains National Park.
Signatories to the letter include over 40 community leaders, local and state-wide environmental groups and representatives of the outdoor industry.
"The coming together of such a significant number of leaders and community and outdoor groups is ground-breaking, and demonstrates the wide-spread concern for the future of the Blue Mountains National Park and the importance of its World Heritage status," said Society president, Tara Cameron.
"The community and visitors, including the society, were resounding in their opposition to the proposed development of the airfield. Over 12,000 people signed a petition against any commercialisation and 85 per cent of submissions opposed the commercial lease with concerns over noise pollution, protection of Aboriginal heritage and pollution of water supplies," she said.
"We are very concerned about pressure from the developer that saw the original decision reviewed. They have now been allowed to submit another proposal, that is currently under review.
"The decision, that sits with the Government, risks ruining the National Park for the vast majority of people while supporting the commercial interests of a developer.
"We are therefore calling on the minister to uphold the original decision to decline the commercial lease proposal, and asking that the site be included in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area", said Ms Cameron.
"If the airfield is added to the National Park, it will ensure appropriate management and protection of the site and that it remains available for fire-fighting and fire prevention purposes."
Katoomba Airfield, located between Medlow Bath and the Grose Valley cliffs, sits a mere 700 metres from the renowned Grand Canyon. It is one of the last remaining inholdings on the Blue Mountains ridgeline and is surrounded by national park.
In addition to the open letter, a petition of over 800 signatures was presented to the Upper House of the NSW Government last week calling on the Government to reaffirm the original decision to reject a helicopter-based commercial lease, cease offering any further commercial leases over the land and have it added to the National Park.