Feds won’thave a bar of airport plan

Sam JonesNorth West Telegraph
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Marble Bar Airport.
Camera IconMarble Bar Airport. Credit: The Shire of East Pilbara/SoEP

The Shire of East Pilbara’s planned $7 million upgrade of Marble Bar Airport will have trouble getting off the ground after the Federal Government rejected a request to help fund the project.

The planned upgrade, which would allow 100-seat passenger jets to take off and land in all weather conditions, had already secured $2 million in funding from Calidus Resources, which planned to use the facility to transport FIFO workers to its proposed Warrawoona mine.

The Federal Government’s reluctance to contribute leaves a $2 million shortfall in funding, which Shire of East Pilbara president Lynne Craigie said was disappointing and didn’t prioritise the community.

“It is incredibly disappointing that this important project for the Shire of East Pilbara has been overlooked, and we are confused by this decision from the Federal Government,” she said.

“The Marble Bar project is for an all-weather airstrip upgrade, and this project should have been a perfect fit.

“ The announcement by the Federal Government indicated there was a focus on funding projects which would provide accessibility in all conditions. They have overlooked that several times a year; residents and businesses in Marble Bar are cut off from Port Hedland for weeks at a time due to cyclone and flooding activity.”

Ms Craigie said the project would still go ahead.

“The Shire is currently working through alternative arrangements to meet the funding gap,” she said.

“Upgrading the airstrip to an all-year, all weather condition airstrip for charter flights directly into Marble Bar would have directly improved access for medical services like RFDS, improved access to goods and services for residents during times of flood, and provided economic stability to mining operations in the area so they can keep operating all year round, by making sure staff can fly directly in.

“I have been in contact with Federal Member Melissa Price to express my disappointment.”

Ms Price’s office was contacted but did not provide a formal response.

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