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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

18 December 2002

Final Assessment of Hawk Lead-in Fighter Proposal


The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, gave environmental clearance for the introduction of the Hawk Lead-In Fighter at the RAAF Base in Williamtown and the Salt Ash Air Weapons Range north of Newcastle, NSW, subject to a number of recommendations.

Dr Kemp said the decision was taken after a rigorous Commonwealth environmental assessment of this proposal under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974.

"The Hawk Lead-In Fighter is a high-tech training aircraft used by current and future Royal Australian Air Force fast jet pilots. The proposal involves the introduction into service of the Hawk Lead-In Fighter at RAAF Base Williamtown and the Salt Ash Air Weapons Range as a replacement of the Macchi Jet Fighter trainer," Dr Kemp said.

"This will involve take-offs and landings to and from RAAF Base Williamtown and the use of the weapons range for weapons training."

"I have determined that, subject to a number of recommendations I have made to the Minister for Defence, the proposal would not have an unacceptable impact on the environment. The principal recommendations relate to the need for comprehensive Environmental Management Plans for the Base and the weapons range, including long-term noise monitoring, plus the need for a long-term strategic review of the noise issue and a review by Defence of its current position against land acquisition and noise attenuation."

"I have also recommended that the Department of Defence undertake a range of other measures, many of which are undertakings given by Defence as part of the environmental impact assessment process. These relate to land use and planning, consultation with the local community, health issues, waste management, air and water quality, as well as wildlife and heritage values at the Base and weapons range."

"There was extensive community consultation during the environmental impact assessment of this proposal and I am confident that the views expressed by the local community have been addressed."

Dr Kemp has conveyed his recommendations to the Federal Minister for Defence as action Minister for the proposal. The Defence Minister will now consider the recommendations in relation to the Hawk Lead-In Fighter and RAAF Base Williamtown and the Salt Ash Air Weapons Range.

The RAAF Base at Williamtown was established in 1941 and is the headquarters of the RAAF's Tactical Fighter Group and the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre. The Salt Ash Air Weapons Range was acquired by the Department of Defence to support RAAF training activities conducted out of RAAF Williamtown.

Further information on the assessment process is available on the website at
http://www.ea.gov.au/assessments/epip/notifications/hawkleadinfighter/index.html.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia