By Margaret Maccoll
It was a “very robust” discussion between a group of about 20 “very engaged” stakeholders that took place at a roundtable meeting held last Friday to discuss proposed Sunshine Coast Airport flight paths but was a “missed opportunity” by Flight Path Forum (FPF) to provide an alternative plan, according to Fairfax MP Ted O’Brien.
Sunshine Coast Deputy Mayor Tim Dwyer said representatives of the FPF were asked repeatedly to table alternative flight path solutions so they could be discussed.
However FPF president Maria Suarez said there was never an opportunity to present alternative flight paths because the only alternatives that “would have ever been considered were those that were submitted during the 2019 consultation period and fell within the constraints of the EIS (Environmental Impact Study)”.
Cr Dwyer said both Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) and ASA put forward alternative flight path options then outlined why they were not considered viable.
“Airservices Australia made it clear this can be for a number of reasons including safety, terrain, populated areas and the fact that the Sunshine Coast airspace is close to, and intersects with, the airspace and flight paths for the Brisbane Airport and Amberley Air Base,” he said.
A western route flight path alternative suggested in community feedback was also discounted because of terrain and its impact on airspace for the Brisbane basin, he said.
Cr Dwyer accused Noosa Council of not representing the interests of its community saying former Noosa Mayor Noel Playford wrote to Sunshine Coast Council in November 2015 and advised that Noosa Council would not be making submissions on the EIS but were encouraging the community to have their say on the proposal.
However in April Noosa Council sent a submission to SCC calling for an extended consultation period and an independent EIS for residents of Lake Weyba, Noosa National Park and Castaway and Marcus beaches under the proposed flight paths.
Mayor Tony Wellington said Council would continue to lobby for residents.
Mr O’Brien, who initiated the meeting attended by state and federal MPs, Sunshine Coast and Noosa Mayors, ASA experts, FPF representatives and the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (as an observer), said it was a worthwhile opportunity to get all stakeholders around the table.
Ms Suarez said the only benefit of the meeting was to be able to ask questions of all stakeholders at one time. One of the answers showed newly affected communities under the flight paths were not going to be assessed by the EIS, she said.FPF will pursue the flight path issue and fundraising to cover possible legal fees because “the community deserves better”.
She said the flight paths were still concepts until Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approved them, there was still wriggle room to make changes and the ombudsman had yet to complete an investigation on the ASA process.
“We hope ASA won’t make a decision on pressure to meet deadlines by Sunshine Coast Council but make sure the community is properly consulted,” she said.
“We don’t want ASA to add Sunshine Coast to their list of failings.”