Drouin South airstrip roadblock

Baw Baw Shire Council sign. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Shelby Brooks

Baw Baw Shire Council has vetoed a retrospective planning permit for a private airstrip in Drouin South, despite it operating without approvals for 42 years.

Applicants and property owners Terrence and Christina Williamson operate the airstrip at 85 Yuulong Road for recreational flying, including use for crop dusting and emergency services.

The Victorian Rocketry Association members also fly hobby model rockets from the strip.

Since it was first built, the Williamsons have applied for various planning permits, with mixed outcomes from the shire, Mr Williamson said in the council meeting on 27 July.

“It’s been going a lot of years,” Mr Williamson said.

“This airfield seems to be a never ending story, with the history going back 42 years.”

Mr Williamson expressed his frustration that the shire planners had recommended councillors refuse the most recent planning application which included proposals for hangers, a meeting room, a toilet block and a car park, which already exist on the site.

“We just want to establish what it is – a grass airstrip,” Mr Williamson said.

“With the planners recommending refusal, it would appear we’re getting the cold shoulder again.

“I can only come to the conclusion that the shire council would rather VCAT make any decision. We have done everything the shire has asked of us, but to no avail.”

After hearing from objectors of the airstrip, who brought concerns of noise and hours of operation, shire councillors unanimously rejected the proposal, leaving the future of the airstrip in limbo.

Baw Baw Shire Cr Peter Kostos said the objectors had valid concerns.

“This airstrip has been here for 40 years…however this application before us is to go from an airstrip to an airfield, to change the connotation of what is going to happen out there,” he said.

“I don’t believe the applicant has done enough due consultation on this.”

Cr Keith Cook said as the owner of the unregulated airstrip, Mr Williamson had a responsibility for activities at the airfield and hoped in the future conditions of access would be imposed by Mr Williamson on users.

“In Gippsland we have several councils, and every council has an airfield, and they are quite proud of them,” he said.

“We know the role the airfield in Mallacoota played during the bushfires up there.”