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Toowoomba

Toowoomba  Airport:

It is rare where a new airport can be welcomed in Australia, with appropriate support from the local Council and community. Toowoomba requires a new air port, with the current one being severely “hemmed-in” by development and a community concern with jets.

A bit further to commute, but a safer arrival likely and with the better road system around this major town, will encourage usage.

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John Wagner
Chairman, Wagner Global Services

John is the Chairman of Wagner Global Services and one of the founders of the Wagner Group of Companies, also known as Wagners. Wagners is a diversified group of companies comprising cement and flyash production, contract crushing, on site concrete plants, bulk haulage, reinforcing steel, precast concrete, composite fibre products and an oil and gas engineering services business. Wagners is based in Toowoomba and has operations in Australia, Malaysia, PNG and Mongolia. The company employs in excess of 1000 full time staff plus subcontractors and is currently building a 747 capable airport in Toowoomba which is the first greenfield public airport built in Australia in the last 47 years. Wagners will own and operate the Brisbane West Wellcamp airport.

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General Information – News, Industry News

Phil Gregory, project manager for Wagners’ Wellcamp Airport project, crouches on the area proposed for the 2.9km runway.

Phil Gregory, project manager for Wagners’ Wellcamp Airport project, crouches on the area proposed for the 2.9km runway.


Wagners takes lead on Toowoomba private airport

Toowoomba is set to get its second airport, with construction giant Wagners working on a new runway at Wellcamp, for completion in April 2014.

 

The new privately owned airport will be constructed by Wagners, the large civil construction family company with a variety of interests, including contract crushing, fly ash, mobile concrete, earth friendly concrete and cement in Queensland.
This new airport project came to fruition after John Wagner, group chairman and managing director of Wagners, test-fired a new corporate jet at the existing airport and inadvertently set off a chain of incidents that banned the airport to jets.
Now the earthmoving equipment owned by Wagners is tearing up the ground for the runway and other buildings at the Wellcamp location. This is the first public airport to be built from scratch since Tullamarine in Melbourne in the 1960s and it is Australia’s first privately built airport.
It aims to replicate Brisbane Airport with a 2.9 kilometre long asphalt runaway that is also 45 metres wide (Brisbane’s runway is 3.3km long). The new runway should able to accommodate Boeing 747s and even heavy-lift Russian Antonov aircraft.
The runway is due to be completed by April 2014 and the first aircraft is scheduled to land in September or October that year with direct Sydney and Melbourne flights a distinct possibility.
Alongside the airport and airport buildings, there is also a project for a one million square metre industrial park and at least one 4.5 star hotel and a DFO shopping mall.
Wagners lodged the council application on 30 June last year to avoid stricter planning laws.  John Wagner has also had to deal with the civil aviation authorities and the Defence Department, which will  redirect some of its Black Hawk training exercises from nearby Oakey air base.
“Plans are progressing along very well. We have reached an agreement with the Department of Defence in relation to the airspace,” Wagner said. He added the company was now working closely with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to determine the best possible flight corridors for the new airport.
“CASA has undertaken an airspace study to determine the possible routes west of Brisbane,” he said. “The army airspace was re-jigged a bit. We hope to finalise all airspace issues by the end of the year.”
Questions over approvals process
Wagner claims to have community support for the project but there have been concerns over the speed with which it was conceived. The planning application was lodged on the last day of a planning regime that did not require wide community consultation.
Neighbour Heather Brown, whose horse stud borders the airport site, said she was concerned about how the approvals process had been run.
Wagner makes no secret that he “pulled every string known to man to get people to understand it is a real project” but the development was given its industrial zoning more than a decade ago and proper process had been followed. The Wagners had bought out several neighbouring properties to allow the project to proceed.
Aside from his own and other corporate jets, Wagner expects the airport to service fly-in, fly-out workers for the mining and gas industry, live cattle flights to Japan, international freight and Virgin and Qantas passenger aircraft.
Shane Charles, chief executive of the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise business advocacy group, said the coal seam gas boom was critical to the project.
Wagner does not necessarily expect to make a dividend on his investment in the short term. “In due course it might make a return but it might not happen in my lifetime,” said Wagner. “My kids will do well out of it and grandkids will do really well if they don’t sell it or muck it up. As a family, we invest in multi-generational assets.
“I am the eldest of the four partners and we don’t need more money than we have now. I wouldn’t do anything differently if I had an extra $400 million in the bank – I’d just be John Wagner.”
Sources: The Australian, The Brisbane Times, The Toowoomba Chronicle

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From the local paper:

Toowoomba Chronicle

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New Wellcamp airport could be boost to flower exports

TOOWOOMBA’S reputation as the flower capital of Australia will move onto a global scale with the realisation of Wellcamp Airport’s huge export potential.Artist’s impression of Wellcamp Airport.

Contributed

TOOWOOMBA’S reputation as the flower capital of Australia will move onto a global scale with the realisation of Wellcamp Airport’s huge export potential.

Wagners managing director Denis Wagner has fielded interest from horticultural industry heavyweights eagerly awaiting the jet-capable airport’s construction.

“From the inquiries we’ve had, it’s clear this will generate a whole range of industries we have never considered possible in this region … especially in horticulture, agriculture and manufacturing,” he said.

Concept map of proposed Wagners Wellcamp Airport. Photo: Contributed
Concept map of proposed Wagners Wellcamp Airport. Photo: Contributed

Wagners has already announced its intention to begin live export of cattle from the site, but it seems Toowoomba’s flowers are also in hot demand.

“There is a huge market for growing flowers in Australia and flying them directly into Asia,” Mr Wagner said.

“That will create opportunities not just for growers, but also in the processing side of things.”

New three-dimensional artist’s impressions of the integrated airport and industrial park have given a clear idea of the Wagner family’s vision for the site.

The airport’s 30-year development plan includes opening a 6000sq m terminal by September next year.

“Ultimately, it could end up twice that size,” Mr Wagner said.

The 2.8km runway has entered its three-month rock-filling stage, with only the laying of gravel and asphalt to follow.

Wagners has started talks with all the major airlines, though no deals have been struck.

“No-one has committed, but there is definitely a lot of interest,” Mr Wagner said.

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Council gives airport plan green light

Developer John Wagner is confident his plans for a new jet-capable airport at Wellcamp Downs will be given the go-ahead by council.
Developer John Wagner is confident his plans for a new jet-capable airport at Wellcamp Downs will be given the go-ahead by council. Bev Lacey

TOOWOOMBA developer John Wagner has been given the all-clear to start construction on Wellcamp Airport early next year.

Mr Wagner was seated in the front row of the City Hall public gallery yesterday as his plan came under the scrutiny of council’s development assessment panel.

He declined to address the meeting, opting rather to hang back and wait for the decision he always expected.

Wagners work crews are on standby to start building in March, 2013.

“I think it’s a fantastic decision for this region,” Mr Wagner said.

“I stand by my view that this is a game-changer for Toowoomba and the entire region.”

While councillors were unanimous in their approval of the airport, they were concerned that minimal community consultation was required due to its code-assessable status.

“I’m disappointed that a project of this magnitude is code-assessable, taking away the local community’s right to be part of the process,” Cr Mike Williams said.

Under Toowoomba’s current planning scheme the undertaking would be impact-assessable, requiring an enormous amount of discussion with ratepayers and stakeholders who might be affected by its approval.

However, developers were given a two-year window after amalgamation in which they could still apply under former planning schemes – in this case, that of Jondaryan Shire Council.

Mr Wagner’s entirely-legal manoeuvring made the project’s approval much simpler than it would otherwise have been.

“They made that window by about two days,” Cr Chris Tait said.

“However, my overall perspective of the project as a whole is that it’s excellent for the community.”

While construction has been approved, Mr Wagner must now run the gauntlet with the Department of Defence.

Councillors have seen the masses of objections from Defence, mostly regarding shared military airspace with Oakey Army Training and Aviation Centre and the RAAF base at Amberley.

Those issues were unrelated to yesterday’s land-use approval but require resolution with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority if Mr Wagner’s plan to fly more than 500,000 passengers annually within 20 years is to be realised.

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Will new airport be cleared for take-off?

13/12/2012

THE man behind an effort to build a jet-capable airport just 15km from Toowoomba’s city centre is confident his proposal will get the green light from council’s development assessment panel today.

John Wagner has construction teams at the ready for an early-2013 start on the Wellcamp Airport.

Before they are mobilised, council must work through a raft of concerns raised by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Department of Defence – and they are numerous.

Most relate to the logistics of sharing restricted military airspace with nearby Oakey Army Aviation Training Centre and the need to reform flight paths and schedules there and at the Toowoomba Airport.

Defence has proven to be the major stumbling block to the proposal, but Mr Wagner was convinced any issues could be ironed out over the next year.

“We put men on the moon in the early 1970s, so I can’t see any reason why we can’t re-design airspace in 2013,” he said.

“That’s how I view it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

There is certainly ample will, with Wagners investing millions just to get the proposal to its current stage.

 

A conceptual image of the entry to the proposed Wellcamp Airport.
A conceptual image of the entry to the proposed Wellcamp Airport.

Councillors will be presented with 140 pages of plans and concerns from CASA, Defence and other parties at 1pm today.

A letter from Air Commodore Anker Brodersen is attached to the application and outlines Defence’s unease.

“As soon as an aircraft departs or lands at the proposed airport, it will be within Defence’s restricted military airspace,” it states.

“An airport in the proposed location has serious safety implications…

“Of note, the long term viability of the proposed airfield will be reliant upon access to restricted military airspace that cannot be guaranteed.

“Due to Defence’s operational requirements, access to active restricted military airspace can only be granted on a case-by-case basis.

“Consequently, Defence recommends an airport of this nature be located further afield, where airspace is available.”

Reader poll

Should council give the green light for construction on the proposed Wellcamp Airport to begin?

This poll ended on 13 January 2013.

Yes

78%

No

21%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The opposition relates not only to Defence operations in Oakey, but also its RAAF base at Amberley.

CASA has stated that the airport master plan “appears to adequately address the Certification issues” but raised concerns over the “aggressive timeframe” of the project.

“… a commencement date of 2016 is likely to be more achievable,” it stated.

Concept map of Wagners&squot; proposed Wellcamp Airport.
Concept map of Wagners&squot; proposed Wellcamp Airport.

Other issues have arisen due to the likely need to redirect runways and flight plans at existing airports at Toowoomba and Oakey, as well as the possibility air traffic control towers at both sites would need significant upgrades to safely direct the influx of traffic.

Mr Wagner said all those obstacles would be scaled once safety and operational management plans were delivered and an aeronautical study was carried out by CASA.

“They (the plans) will be put together over the next six months while we get ourselves organised to make sure we have a very safe and efficient operation,” he said.

“We will start construction at the end of the first quarter of 2013.

“CASA doesn’t certify the airport until after it is built.”

Mr Wagner was reserved when asked how difficult it had been to get the proposal to its current stage.

“It’s just a matter of doing all the planning and organisation to ensure we’ve got a low-cost and world’s-best-practice airport,” he said.

Draft master plan

  • 516ha to be changed from rural zoning to allow a public airport terminal
  • Vehicle access to be gained from Toowoomba-Cecil Plains Rd via a two-lane carriageway and private road to be built as an extension to existing unnamed public road
  • Runway is 2870m long by 45m wide with the inclusion of turning nodes, orientated in north-west to south-easterly direction
  • Includes two taxiways and an aircraft apron to the north of the proposed terminal building and car parking to the south-east of the runway
  • Public terminal building will have gross floor area of 194 square metres including office, reception, foyer, meeting rooms and amenities
  • Proposal includes provision for future expansion and staging of aircraft aprons and taxiways (not relevant the current development application)
  • Existing buildings and structures on site are to be demolished/removed and the existing airstrip is to be decommissioned
  • Facility is to operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week
  • Car parking is to be provided for 120 cars with the option of additional capacity to be provided initially (for up to 417 cars).
  • Provision for passenger pick-up and drop-off, disability access pick-up and drop-off, taxi rank, shuttle bus and coach/bus parking, and car rental parking

Project Timeline
Stage 1 – Start-up
Operations to mid-2019 intended to cater for:

  • Up to nine-seater aircraft conducting private/charter operations to Roma, Injune, Miles and other locations in the Surat Basin
  • 50-seater aircraft conducting regular passenger operations to Sydney and possibly in support of Skytrans services currently operating from Toowoomba until at least April 2013
  • Some helicopter operations
  • Annual passengers expected to be 70,000 for the first six months to Dec 2014
  • Minimum of 120 car parks will be required.
  • Proposal does not include warehouses, fuel storage or hangars, meaning aircraft will not be able to park overnight

Stage 1A – Start-up security screening operations
Not part of current application

  • Introduce larger aircraft and require security screening operations and associated upgrades to the terminal building
  • Operations continue to utilise Stage 1 runway, taxiway and apron
  • Additional destinations to Bowen and Galilee Basins for nine-seater aircraft
  • Small freight operations to Roma and Sydney
  • Introduction of 76-seater aircraft conducting regular passenger trips to Sydney
  • Annual passengers expected to be 135,000 at the end of 2015 and 165,000 at end of 2016
  • Minimum of 270 car parks will be required

Stage 2 – short-term expansion
Not part of current application 

  • Construction of corporate hangars
  • Construction of Stage 2 main apron
  • Air traffic control service if required
  • 170-seater aircraft such as A320/B737 conducting regular passenger operations to Sydney
  • Ad-hoc B747 freighter operations from Singapore
  • Annual passengers expected to be 238,000 at the end of 2018
  • Minimum of 330 car parks will be required

Stage 3 – medium-term consolidation
Not part of current application 

  • Include a maintenance and repair organisation and development of the Stage 3 taxiway.
  • Aviation rescue and fire fighting facilities as required
  • Applicant notes the expected expiration of leases at the Toowoomba Airport in 2023
  • Minimum of 417 car parks will be required
  • 20 Year Horizon (not part of this application)
  • Annual passenger numbers expected to be 530,000 at the end of the 20-year planning horizon 

Latest Comments

Showing 24 of 26 comments

  • eather from Torrington 4 months ago with 3 replies

    Progress is a good thing but does Mr Wagner live around the proposed site or flight path, this is a rural area people live out here for a reason, peace and quiet from city life for one.

    Reply

    Conservative from Toowoomba City 4 months ago

    Oh how rude of them. Maybe they’ll send you a complimentary set of ear muffs?

    Reply

    eather from Torrington 4 months ago

    originally posted by Conservative from Toowoomba City 4 months ago

    Oh how rude of them. Maybe they’ll send you a complimentary set of ear muffs?

    hopefuly they will as you obviously are one of those not going to be affected.

    Reply

    eather from Torrington 4 months ago

    originally posted by Conservative from Toowoomba City 4 months ago

    Oh how rude of them. Maybe they’ll send you a complimentary set of ear muffs?

    conservative i already wear earplugs so will not need yours.

    Reply

  • Davointhebush from Toowoomba 4 months ago

    So, will it be the Executive Set or an Exocet?

    Reply

  • KatteeC from Australia 4 months ago with 2 replies

    The facilities already exist at the taxpayer funded Oakey airport. Oakey used to host commercial flights to Sydney. There are several joint military/civil airports in Australia and overseas. The notion that civil flights can’t return to Oakey is preposterous to say the least.

    Reply

    BloggerofOakey from Oakey 4 months ago

    What a lot of people don’t understand is, rotary winged aircraft i.e. helicopters, also fly vertically, that is, up and down. As well as flying horizontal (side to side, backwards and forwards), helicopters need this space for training/flying. They have erratic flight paths and need the space for this up and down and sideways stuff. Fixed wing aircraft pretty much fly in a determined pattern straight ahead and if Oakey was a training facility for fixed winged aircraft then it could be seen as an option to allow commercial flights. As it stands, rotary and fixed wing aircraft are not the best of bed buddies if both need to be in the same space at the same time.

    Reply

    random737 from Centenary Heights 4 months ago

    The use of Oakey is probably not the “no cost, no brainer” solution you believe it to be. From an aircraft spotters point of view, it would be rather problematic because it would seem that helicopter circuit training and the traffic volumes immediately around the airport runways are entirely different to normal Fixed Wing aeroplane training. Basic helicopter circuit training traffic loads seem to be very high and very condensed, which would cause all sorts of delays both for the military traffic and any civilian passenger aircraft trying to sequence in amongst them. Also the prevailing training circuit direction seems to directly conflict with the most likely civil approach and departure paths on the longer runway because of prevailing winds – a vital factor for helicopters. This conflict would probably prove unworkable for permanent mixing of military and civilian traffic without significant changes to existing runway infrastructure and the navigation aids at the airport, both of which would cost significantly.

    Reply

  • JonTrace65 from Highfields 4 months ago

    If there are numerous concerns including from casa and the defence department then you would think alarm bells would be ringing?? Wagner says it will be approved. The only way he would know that is if he has bullied or leaned on the council. I understand there is a lot of objections to this proposal. Will be interesting to see how council approaches those

    Reply

  • thetreeman from Toowoomba 4 months ago

    The Wagner proposal has merit but there are just too many issues with the planned site. Oakey could be a joint user facility but Defence have a problem with slow moving helicopters sharing airspace with high speed jets. Chopper training was moved from Canberra to Oakey partly for that reason. The plan for an international airport is just a bit wishful. Such a project would take 10 plus years to bring to fruition and infrastructure costs would be beyond Wagners and TRC. There has been a plan to build a new airport in the Lockyer Valley for some time. Wagners and TRC should get together with that consortium and build the airport down there. Less problems with fog and airspace management and close proximity to the railway for freight and passenger traffic.

    Reply

  • Turtleman from Prince Henry Heights 4 months ago with 7 replies

    For those people who suggest a Lockyer Valley airport or the ‘Oakey option’ – who will pay? Wagners have the land, the money and the will for the Wellcamp option. They have spent some millions already on this site and proposal. It stacks up commercially. Oakey and Lockyer Valley never will. I personally would like a decent airport and the industries it brings in Toowooomba in my lifetime, not in dreamtime.

    Reply

    office1 from Westbrook 4 months ago

    Turtleman do you live near the propsed airport? I think not!!! I agree Toowoomba would benefit from better infrastructure. But Wagners got this approved with no public community consultation because they used a loop hole in the law. If it isn’t going to affect communities living near the airport why did they do it so underhanded. They seemed very sure of the outcome because of this loophole and as the saying goes money talks. To have an airport in Toowoomba operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week is ridiculous ambition when the community hasn’t been consulted and it doesn’t look like they will how arrogant of Mr Wagner.

    Reply

    funkyfedaykin from Newtown 4 months ago

    originally posted by office1 from Westbrook 4 months ago

    Turtleman do you live near the propsed airport? I think not!!! I agree Toowoomba would benefit from better infrastructure. But Wagners got this approved with no public community consultation because they used a loop hole in the law. If it isn’t going to affect communities living near the airport why did they do it so underhanded. They seemed very sure of the outcome because of this loophole and as the saying goes money talks. To have an airport in Toowoomba operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week is ridiculous ambition when the community hasn’t been consulted and it doesn’t look like they will how arrogant of Mr Wagner.

    office1:
    Let’s see, I want to build a massive piece of infrastructure that is conveniently located, and that will secure my business and the local industries for years. How should I go about it? Quickly and efficiently within the laws of the land, or deliberately open it up so that every man and his dog can have his say in an effort to reduce or restrict my visionary intentions. Which would you choose?

    It’s not underhanded, it’s business.

    Reply

    thetreeman from Toowoomba 4 months ago

    The value of Wagner’s land is a relatively minor part of the cost. Let’s see some common sense cooperation between regions and not wasteful parochialism.

    Reply

    office1 from Westbrook 4 months ago

    originally posted by funkyfedaykin from Newtown 4 months ago

    office1:
    Let’s see, I want to build a massive piece of infrastructure that is conveniently located, and that will secure my business and the local industries for years. How should I go about it? Quickly and efficiently within the laws of the land, or deliberately open it up so that every man and his dog can have his say in an effort to reduce or restrict my visionary intentions. Which would you choose?

    It’s not underhanded, it’s business.

    Funkyfedaykin of Newtown
    It isnt every man and his dog, it is the human beings that live in the surrounging area that will have to put up with the noise and pollution that this infrastructure will cause. If he wanted to do it so quickly with no imput from the community why did he wait nearly two years to put the propsal forward with just 2 days to spare using the old laws.

    Reply

    office1 from Westbrook 4 months ago

    originally posted by thetreeman from Toowoomba 4 months ago

    The value of Wagner’s land is a relatively minor part of the cost. Let’s see some common sense cooperation between regions and not wasteful parochialism.

    thetreeman from Toowoomba, I don’t see people commenting on such a huge investment of this type of infrastructure that may or may not impact on their health or livlihood as petty or narrow minded. The last time I looked Australia was a democracy and and every Australian has a right to free speech. I agree we should have common sense cooperation but that hasn’t happened so far by the Wagner Group, by not allowing those that may be impacted by this development having their say.

    Reply

  • madcapmagician from Mount Lofty 4 months ago with 1 reply

    Looks to me like the proposed runway is a bit out of whack for the prevailing winds?? While not impossible, I wouldn’t enjoy landing my 737 in a crosswind all the time…

    Reply

    thetreeman from Toowoomba 4 months ago

    Many airports on the east coast of Australia have runways aligned NW/SE as the prevailing winds come from those directions (mostly SE near the coast). One exception is Brisbane where the runway alignment (01/19) was chosen for political reasons, so flights wouldn’t pass over a then federal Liberal member’s electorate! (this is true, on the public record). When we were still flying old DC-9s and B727s with high wing loadings, crosswinds were a big problem at Brisbane, less now with modern aircraft.

    Reply

  • farmerjack from Hampton 4 months ago

    Why cant the taxpayers just ask to have the oakey converted to a domestic airport? They paid for it. Surely if Canberra moved the helicopter training to Oakey because of traffic, progress means it is time to move it on again, or just outsource it.

    Reply

  • firefly1spy from Toowoomba 4 months ago with 1 reply

    No doubt a lot of Toowoomba people will be delighted with this news but please give a thought to the residents who live close to the proposed sight for this airport. We have had no consultation and now face having our peaceful lives disturbed by flying aircraft as well as our properties devalued immensely. I fail to understand how the Toowoomba Counsellors can vote on this matter without any community consultation. Like other people have mentioned, Wagners seemed very confident that they would gain approval. Do they have a direct line to the Council?

    Reply

    funkyfedaykin from Newtown 4 months ago

    I understand where you’re coming from, but it looks like everything was done by the book, according to the law, and the law says no community consultation required for this development under the old planning scheme.
    Any developer can be confident of approval if they have followed the rules, answered all of councils questions and been discussing the project with council.

    Reply

  • thetreeman from Toowoomba 4 months ago with 1 reply

    I wasn’t aware that the Wagner proposal didn’t require normal approval by TRC. Nevertheless, there will be some public opposition. As I said in earlier post, the Wagner proposal has many hurdles to jump and I would only give it a 50/50 chance at best.

    Reply

    johnt57aus from Kearneys Spring 10 days ago

    To thetreeman…what odds are you offering now….you had the airport at 50/50 at best for going ahead. I would put it at 99.99%…. I personally think this is the best development to happen in Toowoomba in the 20 years that I have lived here… Congratulations to Wagners for having the foresight and drive to see this through…..

    Reply

  • Spacemonkey from Toowoomba 3 months ago

    We recently purchased a block of land in the proposed flight path in Oct 2012 and before purchasing, contacted Council Town Planning to find out whether there were any proposed major works happening in the area. We were informed that the only upcoming works would be an upgrade to one of the roads nearby… certainly no mention of an international airport! Surely Council would have had some idea at this stage that something like this would be happening in the near future… had we known this we would not have bought the land! Very disappointed!!!

    Reply