Proposed lease of Katoomba Airfield

Aerial view of Katoomba Airport

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has considered a proposal to lease Crown land at Medlow Bath known as Katoomba Airfield. The existing lease had come to an end and a lease applicant was identified by an expression of interest process in 2017.

Katoomba Airport location

Katoomba lot map

The applicant proposed to revitalise the site as a hub for recreational aviation and promote sustainable management of the site. The applicant believes the proposed lease would provide opportunities to ‘open up’ substantial parts of the site for bushwalking and other community activities.

The applicant’s proposal:

  • provided for new and upgraded facilities for visitors to the Airfield (subject to appropriate planning approvals)
  • committed to entering into a biodiversity agreement resulting in planting of new trees
  • suggested the investment proposed would support tourism and benefit the local economy
  • confirmed emergency services would continue to have full access to the site for training and operational purposes.

Community engagement activities for this proposal included:

  • a 56 day public exhibition and submission process - this included a two week extension to the normal exhibition period due to school holidays
  • four drop-in community information sessions held in Katoomba
  • key stakeholder briefings at commencement of the submission period
  • notification on the department’s webpage
  • publication of a notice in the Blue Mountains Gazette advising of the public submission period and the information sessions
  • a fact sheet and frequently-asked questions (FAQs) available from the department website
  • NSW Government Have Your Say website notification.

Have your say

A 56 day public submission period commenced on Sunday 9 June 2019 and closed at midnight on Sunday 4 August 2019. Any submission received after this date was not considered unless approval had been granted by the department.

Drop-in information sessions

Drop in information sessions were held at Hotel Blue & Conference Centre, Katoomba on:

  • Wednesday 19 June 2019 from 11 am – 1 pm or 5 pm –7 pm
  • Tuesday 25 June 2019 from 11 am – 1 pm or 5 pm – 7 pm

Meetings were also held with community interest groups.

Submissions received

More than 1,500 submissions were received as part of the community consultation process for the proposed lease of Katoomba Airfield. Copies of the submissions are available in the documents below, excluding those where consent to publish was not provided.

These documents are not sorted by any special order and have been grouped to enable easy download as required.

Supporting documents

Download the documents for additional information about the proposed lease.

Frequently asked questions

Will the public still be able to use the site?

Yes. Historically, public access to and use of Katoomba Airfield for anything other than aviation was prevented by the terms of the previous lease. The lease applicant is proposing to ’open up’ areas of the site to encourage greater visitation and community use of the site by offering new and improved facilities.

Why is this being considered?

Katoomba Airfield is Crown land and the lease has expired.

The grant of a lease to a tenant provides for the responsible management of the 36Ha site in accordance with applicable laws and the objects and principles of Crown land management. A lease provides financial, environmental and social benefits to the people of NSW.

How did this proposed lease come about?

The previous lease ended late in 2017. The same year, following consultation with commonwealth, state and local government agencies, expressions of interest were invited from the public to identify interest in managing and / or further developing the site on behalf of the department.

Following this process in February 2018, a licence was granted to Derek and Floyd Larsen for Aerodrome and Land Management on the site. In January 2019 a lease application was lodged with the department by Mr and Mrs Larsen. The lease application is in the name of FlyBlue Management Pty Ltd, to satisfy the department’s requirements for the registration of any leaseholder as a legal entity.

Decision on proposal

The community was invited to provide feedback on the proposed lease of Crown land at Medlow Bath, known as Katoomba Airfield between Sunday 9 June 2019 and Sunday 4 August 2019 in accordance with the requirements of the Community Engagement Strategy.

A total of 1582 submissions were made, with more than 85 per cent opposing the application and only 13 per cent in support or offering conditional support.

The community feedback has been carefully considered and a final decision has been made by the department not to proceed with the lease application in its current form.

The department has advised FlyBlue that a revised application may be considered if commercial helicopter flights were removed from the application.

The department has also advised FlyBlue to consider further community engagement with the community to reach a balanced approach to the management of the concerns expressed during the submission period.

FlyBlue has been advised that their current licence to operate the site will cease on 28 February 2020. A new licence that prohibits helicopter flights will be issued at that time.

The airfield will remain open to emergency services.

A summary report identifying key themes from the consultation process has been developed by the department and is available for download.

Consultation Summary Report Addendum

A summary of community and stakeholder feedback provided during information sessions and key stakeholder meetings is included in the Addendum to the consultation summary report.

Independent review of community engagement process

Following concerns raised by the lease proponent, Fly Blue Pty Ltd, the Secretary of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment requested the Crown Lands Commissioner, Professor Richard Bush, to undertake an independent review of the community consultation process for the proposed lease of the Katoomba Airfield.

The independent review was guided by terms of reference, with the Commissioner providing the final Crown Land Commissioner Report to the Secretary on 19 May 2020.

The Secretary has reviewed the recommendations from the Commissioner's report and requested Crown Lands to consider appropriate implementation.