The Federal Government has announced a multi-million dollar funding package for bushfire-impacted communities across East Gippsland, and has allocated almost $10 million to upgrade the region’s Aerodrome. 

The $30 million dollar package is part of the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program, intended to help the recovery and resilience of the region. 

$9.9 million of the package will be allocated to upgrade the Bairnsdale Aerodrome – East Gippsland’s primary airport and the key hub for aerial firefighting and emergency response.

East Gippsland Shire Council (EGSC) Mayor, Mark Reeves, said the Aerodrome funding is a timely result, given the EGSC’s ongoing advocacy for federal support.

“As the second busiest airport in Victoria for Air Ambulance Victoria patient transfers, these infrastructure upgrades are integral to our continued operations as a key hub for emergency response in the state,” Cr Reeves said.

The Aerodrome will see the size of the primary runway at Bairnsdale Airport increased to 1,600m long and 30m wide, with the strength of the runway increasing to 21PCN (Pavement Classification Number).

This work has the additional benefit of supporting commercial passenger services, creating new tourism, freight and professional service opportunities that rely on air travel.

Cr Reeves said the upgrades will be instrumental in strengthening, diversifying and assisting the local economy to become further resilient to the impact of disasters.

“The master plan aims to enhance the airport’s profile with the intent to potentially attract future commercial services into East Gippsland and promote the local economy and industries by way of air services,” Cr Reeves said. 

“An upgraded runway will not only increase capacity by allowing larger aircraft to land and increase the resilience of any disaster-impacted communities reliant on tourism, it will also support air transport of fresh produce to market, which is essential for growth and continuity in the horticultural sector.”

The Bairnsdale Airport is the largest project on EGSC’s advocacy priority list, with the construction of the Gippsland Agricultural Recovery and Resilience Centre also of high importance to the region. 

Altogether, there are 38 projects to receive a share of the $28 million in Federal Government recovery grants.

Eight of these were directly lodged by ESGC, which have a combined value of $14 million.

These projects are:

  • Bairnsdale Airport Runway Upgrade
  • Mallacoota Mudbrick Pavilion Upgrade
  • Omeo Recreation Reserve Netball and Tennis Court Upgrade
  • Cann River – Mick Baum Park Skate Park Redevelopment
  • Raymond Island Community Hall Extension
  • Lake Tyers Beach Hall Upgrade
  • Bemm River Footpath Development
  • Club Terrace Community Facility Project

Cr Reeves said that this federal support is a great outcome for East Gippsland.

“Just last year, East Gippsland community leaders wrote to the Prime Minister to express disappointment with the government’s initial $4.5 million funding allocation, citing it as being much less than expected based on what the community has endured,” Cr Reeves said. 

“Council worked closely with community groups to identify local recovery priorities and advocate for evidence-based funding allocations that are reflective of fire impact and need.”

Cr Reeves stated his appreciation for the Federal Government’s decision to further assist East Gippsland’s recovery.

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