Airport Expansion Information

July 23, 2018

in Association News


Ross Ullman, Project Director for the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion project, addressed the June CaNSCC management meeting about the project, focussing especially on the aspects that concern CaNSCC, ie the opening of the dune line to enable the pipeline to cross from the sea to the airport, the impact of dredging on marine life, especially turtles, the impact on the dunes of pipe construction before installation, and the rehabilitation of the dunes post-pipeline requirements.



As Ross Ullman explained, there are several needs for a new runway. The current runway, constructed in 1961, was sufficient for aircraft existing then, but as aircraft have increased in size, weight and carrying capacity, the runway has reached its limit. In addition, aircraft pilots have to be certified every year so they can land and take off on such a short runway. The new runway will be about 700m longer and 15m wider than the current one, and capable of landing larger, heavier aircraft. It will also be higher and will bisect the current runway, so that only the northern half of the current runway will be accessible for landing and takeoff, limiting its use to small aircraft. The new runway will be aligned south-east/north-west, which is more closely aligned with prevailing winds than the current one, which often sees aircraft landing in strong crosswinds.


Prior to any construction, background conditions were established for groundwater, involving the Queensland Dept of Environment and Science; acid sulphate soil cores were done to 3m, and about 4ha of Allocasuarina emuina and associated wallum plants were translocated within the grounds. The heath translocation looks to have worked so far, but the A. emuina trees have not done so well, partly because their root system was deeper than the machinery could access, and partly because the trees were inundated shortly after translocation. However, seeds were obtained from the plants before they were translocated, and the resulting seedlings will be planted as soon as possible.


Dredging is expected to take three months, starting in July 2018. To enable access from the Airport to the dredging vessel, a pipeline 700m long and 900mm diameter has been constructed on the beach adjacent to the northern tip of the airport. This pipeline is partly rigid steel, partly a lighter material. The lighter section will sink when not connected to the dredge, and the steel part will be bored under David Low Way and link up with the other steel section inside the Airport grounds. Some of the steel section will remain above the ground on the beach, with a sand bridge to enable movement by pedestrians and SLS vehicles along the beach. The closure of BA 111 is necessary for the pipeline connections to the Airport grounds. Pipeline construction, above the high tide line, will be monitored for any cultural artefacts.

Dredging will commence in early July, using a Dredging International vessel called The Nile River, which will dredge around 1.5 million m3 from the Spitfire Channel in Moreton Bay, doing three trips per day, carrying about 15,000 m3 of sand each trip, taking two hours to fill/empty the vessel each time. The Spitfire Channel realignment (by dredging) will enable ships to enter Moreton Bay without doing two hard turns on their way.

The timing of the dredging program has been made to fit in with the turtle nesting and hatching season, hence the need to have the dredging finished by October 31 this year. Other than sand, fill will be brought in from Moy Pocket and elsewhere on the Sunshine Coast.


None of the Mt Coolum National Park has been resumed for the project; in fact, the NP has been enlarged by several hectares, as a swap for the bund wall area on the eastern boundary of the NP with DLW, on an approximate ration of 10 :1, or some cash in lieu of land. The wall along the DLW alignment will have to be augmented by a concrete wall up to 400mm, which would then protect Marcoola, and would raise the flood level within the NP by 20-30mms, and on the airport site by 40mm. The bund wall stops flooding from the Maroochy River in the west/south, as the flood plain runs from Mt Coolum to the river. The construction of the concrete wall is the responsibility of Sunshine Coast Council, and will be built by November 2018.

Construction of the new runway will be carried out by John Holland, the successful tenderer, at a cost of $236million, plus another $60million for unbudgeted costs.


A Cultural Heritage Management Plan was developed in early 2017, and the Project staff are working with the Kabi Kabi community to manage the translocated wallum.

Research into the Eastern Ground parrot is receiving a $1 million injection, as it is known to have lived in the wallum area to the north of the airport precinct.

Rehabilitation of the dunes flattened for the positioning of the pipes will be carried out by Topo., an engineering company based in Meridan Plains. According to their website they:

“specialise in providing environmental and engineering solutions for our clients. …our core services relate around soil and water management…”

Mr Ullman said that advice would be sought from CaNSCC (and hopefully its subsidiary, CCNN) regarding revegetation of the site after the sand pumping has finished. He also acknowledged that the modified western horizon could affect sea-turtle nesting until the vegetation grows back, so that some form of artificial shading may be necessary for the next several nesting seasons.

Jan Crossland, CaNSCC secretary

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