Museum ‘open to discussion’ on controversial expansion
The Queensland Air Museum says it will work to achieve what's best for the community after its petition to expand the Caloundra site into a neighbouring bushland reserve was slammed by environmental groups.
Museum secretary John McCabe said its submission to expand the site into a parcel of land between Pathfinder Dr and Caloundra Rd would ensure the museum's sustainable future.
"In 1986, the air museum was invited by the then Landsborough Council to move to its current site. When it opened, the museum had four aircraft. It now has 110 airframes and is at full capacity," he said.
"The museum is by far the largest aviation museum in Australia and recently identified as having a nationally and internationally significant collection.
"We feel the presence of the museum on Caloundra Rd will ensure it has a sustainable future and remains a strong community asset which will benefit local residents and businesses. Presently, it attracts 25,000 visitors a year."
But local environmental groups are countering the museum's petition in a bid to protect the Isabel Jordan Bushland Reserve, which they say is one of the last remaining Coastal Heaths in the region.
The Sunshine Coast Environment Council declared the bushland "off limits" in its supporting statement to the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland - Sunshine Coast and Hinterland's petition.
"The region cannot afford to lose important conservation land such as this. The reserve status is intended to protect vulnerable bushland and wildlife habitat in perpetuity - not have swathes clear-felled to make way for other incompatible uses," Sunshine Coast Environment Council liaison Narelle McCarthy said.
The Isabel Jordan Bushland Reserve is administered for the State Government by the Sunshine Coast Council as Trustee and is recognised as important for biodiversity and habitat connectivity values.
It allows water to disperse into other wetlands and eventually into the Pumicestone Passage.
"With rampant encroachment of urban development on the natural environment, this is a time for protecting and retaining as much bushland as possible, not destroying what little remains and Isabel Jordan's impressive legacy in the process." Ms McCarthy said.
Mr McCabe said the air museum welcomed discussions with the community group and council staff, which he said would "ensure a better outcome for all parties and would provide alternate land tracts more suitable to sustaining our native flora and fauna".
The Queensland Air Museum took out the gold medal win in the 2019 Queensland Tourism Awards and was a finalist in the Sunshine Coast Business Awards. Its petition to expand has gained more than 5500 signatures.