THE proposed $419 million upgrade to the Sunshine Coast Airport has been declared a significant project by the Coordinator-General.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council, which owns and manages the airport, plans to construct a new runway and terminal and expand the aviation business precinct at the Marcoola airport site.
Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade Andrew Fraser last week said the project would offer significant operational benefits for the terminal and provide opportunities for local economic growth.
The proposed new east-west runway would be 2,430 metres in length, 633 metres longer than the existing airstrip. Mr Fraser said this would allow for a newer generation of quieter aircraft and a smaller proportion of take-off and landing flight paths passing over residential communities.
He also said the proposed upgraded airport would be able to accommodate larger aircraft providing additional passenger capacity and opening the airport to an expanded international market.
If approved, construction on the project is expected to commence in 2014 and take six years to complete.
"The airport has been identified as a key regional transport hub that is likely to influence major growth in the area," Mr Fraser said, adding that it could become an attractive alternative to Brisbane Airport.
Coordinator-General Keith Davies said the project would now be thoroughly assessed through an Environmental Impact Statement process which will consider the source of the runway fill among other environmental issues.
He emphasised that a significant project declaration does not constitute project approval.
"Rather, it means the project's scale, complexity, technology components and potential effects on infrastructure, employment, culture and the environment will be rigorously assessed," Mr Davies said.
Mr Davies said community engagement and public comment will be an important part of the decision-making process.
Also last week, the Coordinator-General declared BHP Billiton MetCoal Holdings' proposed Goonyella rail project and the Dudgeon Point Coal Terminal to be significant projects.
The BHP Billiton MetCoal Holdings proposal is for a 290 kilometre rail line and associated infrastructure connecting the Goonyella Riverside Mine complex and Port of Abbot to service new mines and expansion projects within the Bowen basin.
The Dudgeon Point Coal Terminal project, near the Port of Hay Point, would involve the development of two new coal terminals with a combined export capacity of 180 million tonnes per year.
Mr Fraser said the projects "bring the promise of billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs to the Queensland economy," with the Coordinator-General to commence the Environmental Impact Statement process with both proponents.
More information on the projects is available from the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation website at <http://www.deedi.qld.gov.au/>.