MRA grounds helipad plan

Catalina Airlines has flown from one tangle of red tape into another.

Fresh from completing noise tests for the Swan River Trust for its plans to launch and land seaplanes on the river—it reckons it passed with flying colours—it is now arguing with another WA government agency over separate plans to use a helipad in East Perth.

Catalina boss Mack McCormack has been trying for two years to reach agreement over the use of a disused helipad at Trinity College.

Up till this week he’s been embroiled in negotiations with the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, a powerful but unelected body that is essentially a planning czar for everything within its boundaries.

He says an 18-month draft licence Catalina he’s been working through with the MRA is unreasonable and designed to deter him accessing the helipad.

One of the conditions is he may not use public roads nor footpaths to get people to and from the helipad.

“They’re trying to make it very hard for us,” he says. “Trinity support us so long as we don’t fly during year 12 exams. We also have assured them we will not operate before peak times before and after school to avoid congestion on Trinity Avenue.”

This week, the MRA pulled the plug entirely, with CEO Kieran Kinsella saying the MRA has, “notified Catalina Airlines that it is unable to continue lease negotiations”.

In a letter to Catalina Mr Kinsella states development work on the Riverside project adjacent to the helipad is due to start in June so it will be unavailable.

Mr McCormack says there is “no operational helipad in Perth” and he believes he has the support of deputy premier Kim Hames for the project.

by CARMELO AMALFI

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