The Ballarat Airport Strategy and Master Plan is progressing well following the completion of the first phase of the community consultation process in late 2023. 

Over February it has been clear the vital role Ballarat Airport plays in the region’s emergency services network, with numerous aircraft using it as a base for aerial firefighting missions to protect life and property in neighbouring communities.  

The Master Plan will identify key development projects to ensure Ballarat Airport continues to serve the region as a key transport asset and reaches its full potential in providing a range of services, including supporting firefighting activity.  

Feedback from the community also highlighted broad support for the idea of Ballarat being connected to the other major population centres throughout Australia.  

The introduction of commercial airline flights into Ballarat Airport to achieve this, is also overwhelmingly supported by 80 per cent of the businesses surveyed, who indicated such capability would benefit their organisation.

The community survey cited reduced travel time as the main benefit offered by an enhanced Ballarat Airport along with the cost savings in accessing a local airport, rather than driving to Avalon or Tullamarine.  

Not only did the community’s feedback note how much easier it would be to visit family and friends or head off on holidays, but they also noted that it would be a boost to Ballarat’s economy, with people easily able to access the city and the Western Victoria region from interstate.  

The strongest concern coming from some sections of the community is the effect of aircraft noise, followed by the potential for this noise to impact house valuations. Addressing these concerns is another important aspect of the Master Plan project.  

Alongside the community and business consultation, the City of Ballarat has commissioned a comprehensive passenger catchment study to measure how many of the 300,000 residents of Ballarat and Western Victoria travel by air and which airport they use.  

The results show current demand for air travel is strong, with an average 1,150 people travelling daily from the region to Melbourne Airport, peaking at almost 1,600 air travellers during school holidays.

Notably, this doesn’t account for any growth that would come from introducing the service – allowing residents and visitors to make trips not presently available.  

The catchment study acknowledged Ballarat’s role as the key service centre for Western Victoria and illustrated the air transport capability the airport could provide to the whole of the region. 

The Ballarat Airport Strategy and Master Plan is due to be completed in draft by mid-2024 and will be presented to the community to review, during a second phase of consultation.  

Featured image: Emergency aircraft at the Ballarat Airport during the response to the Bayindeen Bushfire, 28 February 2024. Image credit: City of Ballarat Council.

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