THE News South Wales Government has committed $8.4million to complete major runway and infrastructure upgrades to the Wentworth Aerodrome.

The funding, which has been made available through the State’s $500million Growing Local Economies Fund, will see upgrades undertaken to the aerodrome’s runway, tarmac, taxiway, lighting and communications capabilities, while also enabling medium-sized turboprops carrying 21 passengers to use the airport for the first time.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, and Member for Murray Austin Evans made the announcement just moments ago.

Mr Evans said that as it currently stands, as little as 5mm of rain falling on the current dirt runway can force the Wentworth Aerodrome to close for several days.

He added that sealing the main runway would allow aircraft to operate in all weather conditions.

“Greater capacity will benefit local growers and graziers using aircraft for crop dusting, mustering and aerial surveys, as well as allow tourism, corporate and mining charters to make use of the aerodrome,” Mr Evans said.

“Upgrading the aerodrome will also enable students from the pilot training school at Mildura Airport to be based at Wentworth Aerodrome, which will provide economic flow-on benefits to local businesses.

“Greater access will also assist emergency service agencies such as NSW Police, NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW State Emergency Service, Royal Flying Doctors and Air Ambulance when they are staging operations or conducting flights.”

Mr Barilaro added that the NSW Government was taking action to provide businesses with the infrastructure they need to succeed, allowing them to focus on expanding their operations and creating new jobs.

“More directly, the Wentworth Aerodrome project will create 37 full-time equivalent jobs during construction, and up to 35 training and accommodation industry jobs when upgrades are complete,” he said.

The Growing Local Economies Fund forms part of the NSW Government’s commitment to deliver infrastructure projects which improve the productivity and competitiveness of the State, and is one of the programs in the $1.6billion Regional Growth Fund.

See Friday’s Mildura Weekly for more on this story, including comments from Wentworth Shire Council Mayor Mel Hederics.