Fast track airport development an inspiration for the quarrying industry

Posted October 17, 2015

Denis Wagner (600x400) (600x400)

‘The question seems to be what can’t be done. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves what can be done.’

That comes from the head of the business that developed Australia’s only privately funded airport..

Director of Toowoomba-based Wagners, Denis Wagner, made the statement in his keynote address to the Institute of Quarrying 2015 national conference.

When the company bought Wellcamp Downs in 1994, it was the largest approved hardrock resource in eastern Australia, he said.

A group of local councils showed interest in developing a large scale industrial site as available land west of Brisbane ran out.

This encouraged Wagners to build Wellcamp Business Park and they started marketing the opportunity to manufacturing industries. The general response was ‘there is no connectivity’, as in airport. In typical style Wagners decided in April 2012 to build an airport.

While some of the decision makers were incredulous, Mr Wagner told the conference that the regulatory process was fairly straight forward.

“What we wanted from the regulatory bodies was to remove the roadblocks and I can say it went pretty smoothly. We submitted a development application to council in April 2012 and it was approved in December that year,” he said.

“The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) don’t give approval until an airport is built. CASA has a manual of standards that it audits and certifies by. So we knew exactly what we were dealing with. It is a really good system to work under.

“Had we opted to apply for government funding, it would have slowed the process down considerably. The last thing we wanted was to be held up looking for money. We did ask government to remove the roadblocks. It made life a lot easier.

“As it stands we own the facility and everyone in it, from the security to the Qantas check-in staff, are Wagners’ employees. This way we can set and maintain standards.”

The figures speak for themselves:

  • 22mt of hardrock was used to build the airport and business park.
  • The majority of that was sourced on-site saving an estimated 335,000 truck movements in and out of the development.
  • The time from submitting a development application to completion was just over 19 months.
  • On November 17 2014 the first scheduled commercial flight was Qantas to Sydney.
  • The 2,700m long runway can accommodate any aircraft currently flying.
  • Wellcamp airport is about 17km from the Toowoomba City Centre.
  • More than 27000 people attended an open day in 2014.

The benefits of the initiative for the local economy are similarly impressive. With a billion people within an eight-hour flight from Wellcamp, one 747 freighter of produce a day out of Wellcamp will generate more $150m/year and 1,050 jobs.

Peak industry body Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise research also suggests the airport will generate an extra $452m/year within five years of operation supported by more than 3,100 new jobs.

One response to “Fast track airport development an inspiration for the quarrying industry”

  1. Jim Hankins says:

    Exceptional keynote address from Denis Wagner. His comment, quoted in this article,

    “What we wanted from the regulatory bodies was to remove the roadblocks and I can say it went pretty smoothly.”

    pretty well encompasses the project. A statement every level of government and regulatory body should be considering or discussing.

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