All about that base: council’s bid to host defence force facility in city

COMING OUR WAY?: Orange City Council has opened the door for a defence force base to be located at Orange.
COMING OUR WAY?: Orange City Council has opened the door for a defence force base to be located at Orange.

ORANGE City Council has registered its interest in hosting a defence force base or industry in a potential boost to the manufacturing and airport sectors.

In its submission to the NSW Standing Committee on State Development’s inquiry into the defence industry, the council nominated the proposed industrial business park at Orange Airport, the former Electrolux site and other vacant industrial blocks as potential locations. 

The council listed its population base of more than 40,000, proximity to Sydney and Canberra, health facilities and specialists, engineering capabilities, access to freight and transport and the range of housing options to support Orange’s bid.

“The council has been developing a greenfield business park around the existing airport that would be highly desirable to companies in the defence industry,” the submission said. 

“There is also suitable land around the Orange region that can be acquired for the purposes of establishing a defence force base.”

The submission also suggested the Orange-based engineering and manufacturing cooperative RENWELD would be an asset to defence force industries.

Mayor John Davis said if a facility was established at the airport, it would never be the scale of the RAAF base at Richmond.

“If you had say a training facility for helicopters, it would be quite big enough to handle it, depending on how big that operation was,” he said.

However, he emphasised it was only an expression of interest and the next step would be up to the state government. 

“It’s got to have employment opportunities [and] smallish operations,” he said.

“We’ve gone out and thrown the net out as far as we can to see what other jobs could come to the region.”

Spring Hill and Surrounding Districts Community Consultative Committee president Sally Playfair said little was known about the submission and what kind of industries were possible, but residents would be concerned about noise from large aircraft and firefighting foam posing a threat to the water catchment area. 

“Even with the most severe controls, pollution still occurs,” she said.

However, Cr Davis said all industries would have to comply with controls. 

Are you a current or former member of the ADF and have an opinion on what’s possible in Orange? Tell us your thoughts – email us here