Ted McIntosh will never forget how close he and his neighbors came to burning to the ground in 2013.
The Cobbler Road fire tore through more than 14,000 hectares of land, sparking a desire in the Yass resident to extend his aerodrome to accommodate an aerial fire fighting base.
The development application currently on public exhibition is to increase the usage of the airstrip to allow 37 users, on 1079 Black Range Road.
Ted McIntosh owns aerial fertilising business, Yass Air Propriety Limited, which runs out of his property and has been in operation since 1975.
“That fire [in 2013] came very close to us, if we have a firefighting airstrip we should be virtually fireproof around here anyway,” he said. “I don’t think there will be much criticism over the DA. I have spoken to the neighbours and I think everyone remembers how close we came to getting burnt out.”
Mr McIntosh says that while the emergency services can’t fund the project on private property, other recreational users will finance the hangers and any income would go to the upkeep and maintenance of the airstrip.
“We have to call it an airport because the Yass LEP doesn’t recognise it as an aerodrome, but it isn’t as big as it sounds,” he said.
Director of Planning and Environmental Services at council, Chris Berry said the interest for recreational use would have increased after the Canberra Airport became an international airport, reducing recreational storage and use.
“I believe Mr McIntosh will want people to go into a lease agreement to assist him finance the project,” he said. “People are looking for cheaper places to house their aircraft and recreational use has been dropping off in Canberra. Other people might be looking at it for aerial spraying.”
Mr Berry said that while some of the concerns for surrounding residents could include noise pollution and traffic on rural roads, the date to submit concerns has been extended to November 2.
Mr McIntosh says he doesn’t foresee concerns with the development, yet hopes that it will be an extra asset to the Yass Valley.
“So far we have around nine people willing to pay to have their own hanger, these are retirees and public servants,” he said. “They will finance it and others will use it, like people coming in for cattle sales, can use it to fly in and out.”