Flight path report vindicates residents

Several community groups gathered to celebrate the release of the report and again protest the actions of ASA.

By Abbey Cannan

A report from the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman has vindicated the outcry by Noosa Hinterland residents in 2019 in response to proposed new flight paths linked to the new Sunshine Coast Airport runway.

Community watchdog group Flight Path Forum said the report was a powerful indictment of the “massive flaws” which occurred in the community consultation by Airservices Australia.

“At last this report affirms the complaints of residents, and points to a way forward which can give hope to affected residents,” FPF spokesperson Vivien Griffin said.

“In essence, the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman has recommended that Airservices Australia go back to the drawing board with regard to flight path design and to engage with the community in doing so.”

The report said the community engagement did not go smoothly, with community awareness of the flight path proposals and consultation sessions heavily reliant on community members using their social media and own letterbox drops to reach interested individuals.

Ms Griffin said a key recommendation is for ASA to implement, as soon as practicable, a post-implementation review process for the Sunshine Coast flight path designs.

“This process should consider identified community-suggested alternatives and a community engagement process that provides genuine opportunities for community contributions to influence decisions,” she said.

“Regrettably it seems that Airservices Australia is seeking to delay this process and cause further grief and distress to affected residents.

“Their response to this recommendation is to give them 12 months to gather operational data, meaning that the outcomes of the post-implementation review may not be known for a further 18 months.”

Flight Path Forum has vowed to seek a shorter review process.

“If ASA are genuine about improved community engagement, they will work with us in designing the post-implementation review and timelines.”

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