The Federal Government has opened applications for Round 8 of the Remote Airstrip Upgrade, in line with its commitment to enhancing the safety and accessibility of airstrips in remote areas of Australia. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said remote aerodromes were critical to aero-medical flights, the delivery of essential goods and services and connecting people to employment and education opportunities. 

“The latest funding is part of our commitment to investing in the future of regional communities,  with this program delivering $62 million for almost 300 projects since 2013,” Mr McCormack said. 

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Kevin Hogan, said the funding will also provide local employment opportunities.  

“Airstrips are often the only way to access remote communities and this funding will allow for  upgrades including improving runway surfaces, improving lighting and installing animal proof fencing, providing a range of local employment opportunities,” Mr Hogan said. 

“Owners or operators of existing aerodromes in remote or very remote areas of Australia can apply for a grant of between $5,000 and $500,000, with $7 million available in total.” 

The Australian Airports Association (AAA) welcomed the latest round of the Federal Government’s Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program, saying it comes at a critical time for the struggling airport sector.

AAA Chief Executive, James Goodwin, said there were around 350 remote airstrips across Australia which were integral to rural and remote communities.

“Remote airstrips provide communities critical access to medical services, they enable farmers to use aircraft for spraying and mustering and also support bushfire fighting aircraft which helped save lives and property during last year’s devastating bushfire season,” Mr Goodwin said.

“These smaller airfields have played an important role during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing medical professionals and supplies into remote communities ensuring they have access to the health services they need to remain safe. 

“Flights landing on these remote airstrips are often delivering food, essential supplies and mail to regions which have limited access to the larger supermarkets and retail outlets.

“They’re also vital in keeping our remote communities connected to the rest of Australia, helping residents reach the larger cities for medical appointments, business travel and education. 

“As Northern Australia heads into the wet season, it’s crucial these landing strips are able to function so that communities aren’t left stranded when local roads are cut off by flooding.

“There is $7 million available for a range of projects including improving runway surfaces, new lighting and animal proof fencing.

“Importantly these projects will create local jobs for local people with the economic flow on effects set to benefit remote towns doing it tough.”

The Government has worked with industry to change guidelines so that small local government  projects of $150,000 or less can now seek funding for 100 per cent of eligible project costs, helping to deliver critical airstrip upgrades at a time it’s needed most.

Applications close on 12 November 2020, with full details on the Round 8 guidelines and the  application form available here.

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