Richmond Valley Council’s latest media release on the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome fails to tell the whole story about contamination of this State heritage-listed World War II airfield, according to aerodrome committee president Richard Gates.

“The public was kept in the dark while council pushed for a retirement village to be built on a contaminated site,” Dr Gates said.

“Richmond Valley Council knew in December 2002 that the land offered for a retirement home on the aerodrome in July 2004 was potentially contaminated.

“Council failed to include its own investigations and the independent work of Coffey Environments in the Draft Plan of Management for the aerodrome submitted to the NSW Heritage Council for approval in August 2005.

“Coffey Environment’s independent report on contamination (September 2005) was not released to the public until April 2007. The report indicated potential health risk to aerodrome recreational users, future residents and current workers at the depot.

“No mention was made of site contamination in a request for rezoning of the land for the retirement village in November 2005 to the State Government. In fact, the report said: ‘The land is not known to contain any contamination’ (Business Papers 15 November 2005, page 75).

“The request indicated that ‘The land is not within the Coastal Zone … or close to any airport or flight path’ — both incorrect.”

Dr Gates said the council has a case to answer about:

  • Why it withheld information from the public about potential risk to health of airfield users until April 2007
  • Why it offered land which was potentially contaminated for a retirement village
  • Why it failed to include information about contamination in the request for rezoning of aerodrome land
  • Why information presented to the council was factually incorrect.