Edenhope and Stawell airstrip boost

AIR emergency services will experience improved access to Edenhope after the aerodrome received more than $100,000 for upgrades.

Victorian Aviation Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips flew his own plane into Edenhope and Stawell on Wednesday to announce grants for the two aerodromes.

Edenhope Aerodrome will receive $103,000 to improve access for air emergency services. Stawell Aerodrome will receive $565,000 to complete its master plan.

Mr Rich-Phillips said Edenhope's money would help widen the airstrip and improve night lighting.

He said an upgraded aerodrome could also assist the town in terms of business and infrastructure.

Mr Rich-Phillips said the upgrade would benefit both emergency and scheduled flights.

"I think providing surety to the air ambulance service is important,'' he said. "It makes it more accessible and more attractive to people. West Wimmera Shire should be congratulated for the works done here.''

West Wimmera Mayor Eveline van Breugel described the funding as unbelievable.

"It's something we've been working on for a long time,'' she said. "Our biggest issue in West Wimmera is distance. This funding is fantastic.''

Cr van Breugel said night access for emergency services was vital.

Ambulance Victoria stopped night landings at the aerodrome in July last year after contractor Pel-Air could not land its fleet at night because of Civil Aviation and Safety Authority aircraft safety guidelines.

The night flights have since resumed under a proviso of planned improved lighting.

Cr van Breugel said widening the airstrip and improving lighting could be completed within a month.

Edenhope Ambulance team manager Malcolm Hunting said the upgrade had cemented the resumption of night flights.

He said it meant people did not have to be driven to Naracoorte or Horsham before being airlifted to hospital. "The shire's put in a fantastic effort to get it up and running again,'' he said.

Mr Rich-Phillips said the Stawell Aerodrome grant would help make it an all-weather aerodrome.

He said stage two was completed about a month ago.

"The upgrade will allow the aerodrome to operate in inclement weather and at night by providing pilot-activated access direct to the automatic weather station at the site,'' he said.

The final stage completes the first major upgrade of the aerodrome since it opened in 1964.

Mr Rich-Phillips said the first two stages of the project had already paid dividends to the community.

"A number of businesses based at the aerodrome have reported an increase in business since the completion of stage two works,'' he said.

"At least eight new jobs have been created as a result of increased air traffic to and from the aerodrome for regular maintenance of aircraft frames, engines and radios.''

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