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"It's not a priority": Haese uninterested in another Adelaide helipad

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Lord Mayor Martin Haese says he has little interest in pursuing an alternative site for a commercial helipad in Adelaide after an unauthorised helicopter take-off late last year put a series of events into motion, ending with the city council abandoning the Bonython Park site last week.

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In September, a pilot, employed by the company lobbying for a commercial helipad in Adelaide, took off without clearance from air traffic controllers and caused a passenger plane to abort a landing at Adelaide Airport.

The incident prompted Adelaide City Council CEO Mark Goldstone to commission an external consultant to review the Park 27 location for a proposed helipad, which advised against it until “extensive works” could be done to improve the practicality of the site – including to circumvent the occasional blockage of all-important radio frequencies.

Last Tuesday, the council accepted a staff recommendation, based on that report, to abandon the Bonython Park helipad proposal, despite the council having worked on it since 2015.

As part of that decision, the council committed to pursuing other potential sites for a private helipad within the City of Adelaide.

However, Haese told InDaily this morning he had little interest in seeking another location for it.

“I’m not actively pursuing (an alternate park lands) site at this time,” said Haese.

“It isn’t a priority.

“We’ve got many other projects that we need to focus on.”

He added: “We put an extraordinary amount of time into that helipad.”

The helicopter pilot that took off without clearance in September was employed by outspoken Adelaide entrepreneur Shane Yeend’s company, Helistar Aviation.

Yeend told InDaily at the time that he had been lobbying for a commercial helipad in the city for over a decade.

He added that the council should be sacked for its performance regarding the helipad proposal, describing it as “a total clusterfuck”, and that he was not involved in the September 13 flight.

As InDaily revealed last week, a Civil Aviation Safety Authority investigation found “human error” to have caused the incident.

Goldstone has also ordered an external review of the council’s processes for assessing and considering the helipad proposal – which it has done for more than two years – amid criticism that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority was not consulted early enough, that warnings about the unsuitability of the Park 27 site were unheeded and that conflicts of interest may have tainted the process.

Haese said he expected that review to be complete within weeks.

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