Parkes Shire Council has thrown its hat in the ring as the site for an international air freight airport.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade John Barilaro earlier this month said the state government is looking at ways to get regional produce to international customers more efficiently.
Consultants KPMG have been awarded a tender to complete a pre-feasibility study and will investigate new and existing sites as potential locations for international freight airports.
A recommendation on exactly how many freight airports would be developed will be included in the KPMG study.
Wagga Wagga is also putting up its hand as a possible site.
Both Wagga and Parkes are the sites of new Special Activation Precincts being set up in the state designed to make it easier for businesses to set up or expand.
Mr Barilaro said NSW produce such as beef, nuts, citrus, berries and dairy products was world-renowned and "getting product to market as quickly as possible is essential".
"We know that air freight is the fastest, most reliable way to move our high-value, perishable exports and that is why we are investigating air freight options in regional areas, so we can get these products from paddock to plate in international markets quicker and easier," he said.
The KPMG study, funded as part of the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, has just begun and a final report with investment recommendations will be delivered mid-2019.
Parkes Council general manager Kent Boyd said: "the history of Parkes promoting fresh produce to international markets via an international freight airport in the region is well known".
"This study will assess if a regional air freight supply chain is feasible and sustainable to become the fastest and most reliable way of getting fresh produce to international markets.
"It will prioritise potential locations in regional NSW, which could be new or existing airports," he said.
"Parkes is a good area to create an airport, particularly with our Special Activation Precinct.
"We have the Lachlan River on one side, the Macquarie River on the other side and if an agricultural precinct would work well as Western Sydney Airport I would suggest it would work well in the country area also," Mr Boyd said.
Parkes mayor Ken Keith OAM said it is important for Parkes "to continue progressing ourselves as a community with the logistics hub and the inter-model and there is no reason international air freight can't become part of the whole area where all three forms of transport come together.
"It makes a whole lot of economic sense to do this out in a regional area where the product is produced.
"We can do a whole lot of value adding and get high value products on to air freight and get them to market.
"There is a whole lot of benefit to doing this out in regional NSW rather than in western Sydney," Cr Keith said.
More than 20 years ago Parkes, cr Keith pointed out, had actually activated a development application for construction of an international air freight airport.
Article source: Parkes Champion Post