Body scanners to be installed at Ballina airport
NEW requirements for regional airports to have better security measures ‒ including body scanners ‒ has forced a rethink of the "whole design" of the newly revamped Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.
The security changes were put in place by the Federal Government.
However grant funding will be available to help regional airports pay for the upgrades.
That's good news for Ballina Shire Council, which just over 12 months ago finished a major, $6 million upgrade to the terminal at the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.
A report to the council's commercial services committee revealed the security screening office, search room and cleaning room will need to be relocated in order to accommodate the new body scan process.
The work could cost $2.5 million, although that includes a "large contingency and is subject to further investigation and detailed design".
"The timing of the release of the new security measures was in 2019, when the terminal upgrade was well advanced therefore the terminal now needs to be modified," the report explains.
Airport manager Julie Stewart spoke to councillors about the required changes at the recent meeting.
"We need somewhere to put that (new security) equipment, and we've got to make sure that equipment is functioning suitably and is not causing confusion, congestion, risk to the security process, (and) risk to Ballina's reputation because of that security process," she said.
"We actually sat down with a design architect to have a look at the existing infrastructure we have and how we could fit that equipment in and if we had to make adjustments, what that adjustment would be.
"Why this wasn't picked up in the previous design, is because we didn't know what the equipment was.
"We didn't know what the footprint was, how it would operate.
"Obviously the design of the terminal, the recent upgrade, was according to the equipment that had to be put in place.
"Now that we understand what the equipment is ... we had to redo and revisit the whole design."
When asked by Cr Phil Meehan whether the council could have incorporated the new security measures before the terminal upgrade was finished, the council's general manager Paul Hickey acknowledged it was "unfortunate" timing.
"The big issue (was) knowing exactly the type of equipment you're going to have ... security rules are always changing," Mr Hickey said.
"The good thing is there are grant funds for the security equipment and they've got grants funds for the actual alterations.
"The federal government has recognised that airports are dealing with these regular changes to security measures and so forth.
"Our aim now is to maximise the grants so we minimise the cost to ratepayers."