Flight path battle increases thrust

Flight Path Forum''s Maria Suarez conducts the iPhone survey. Photos: Rob Maccoll

By Margaret Maccoll

Noosa residents packed The J Theatre at Noosa Junction on Saturday to find out whether the proposed Sunshine Coast Airport flight paths would bring A330 passenger flights daily over their houses at a noise rate of 60-70 decibels and what steps were planned to prevent this happening.

At the forum community group Flight Path Forum (FPF) asked invited guests a number of questions but before this attendees participated via their iPhones in a Menti survey on the issue with results displayed immediately on screen.

The survey results showed overwhelmingly the greatest concern of attendees was the noise impact from flight paths, followed by the environmental impact, curfew, property values and emissions.

It showed less than half of residents were in Noosa when an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) was conducted in 2014 and most people did not receive notification from Air Services Australia, the Sunshine Coast Airport or Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) about information sessions held in March and April this year.

Of those who attended one of the ASA informational meetings about half left feeling uninformed or confused.

Wide Bay MP Llew O’Brien did not attend the meeting due to illness but in response to questions said he was committed to voicing the very serious concerns of the community about the flight path impacts and the way consultation had been conducted with ASA and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack who was the Minister with authority on the issue.

Fairfax MP Ted O’Brien attended and having had previous discussions with FPF and SCC and Noosa Council Mayors and passed along a 60-page community consultation report prepared by the FPF’s Charlotte Wensley and containing serious concerns to ASA and Deputy Prime Minister told the forum ASA had given assurance issues raised would be considered.

He said ASA had agreed to facilitate a roundtable stakeholder forum in the first week of July before the preferred flight paths were furnished.

Neither SCC Mayor Mark Jamieson nor ASA representatives attended the meeting.

In a statement Cr Jamieson said the EIS and flight path options had been developed by qualified consultants with consideration given for an optimum outcome for safety and environmental impact and the least number of households being impacted.

In another statement ASA said they were considering all feedback in flight path design and would release consultation feedback in early July to show how their considerations would form part of their flight path decisions which they would lodge with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) on 29 July.

When asked about the possible impact of flight paths on property values Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said while council did not determine property valuations research showed it may have an impact in the short term but studies have shown it had little long term impact.

While Noosa residents regard their situation spare a thought for the impact of flight paths over Mudjimba.

Mudjimba Residents Association spokesman Martin Peelgrane told the forum as a result of changes made by SCC to the runway location to avoid an area of “differential settlement” causing soft ground and mitigating costs estimated at about $50 million it left 438 houses in closer proximity to the runway under the flight path where they would experience expected noise levels at 90 decibels. He said the group of residents would be forced to install double glazing and insulation to reduce the noise impacts. They were seeking compensation but were told they had to first experience the damages, and faced with prohibitive legal costs to obtain compensation would probably look at a class action.

“They’ve moved the flight paths over our houses and we think they should pay,” he said.

FPF legal spokesman Andre Van Zyl described the flight path issue as “the biggest shambles we’ve ever seen”. He said PFP had engaged a lawyer and barrister and to date $20,000 had been raised of a $50,000 target to cover legal costs in what could be a long and protracted case.

Mr Van Zyl said the next but short term option was to obtain an intervention in the registration process for proposed flight paths, by calling on Federal MPs and Deputy Prime Minister or through legal measures.

He said the community then needed to establish a stakeholder engagement panel to develop a solution in the best interests of the greater community and ensure the community has a say in the outcome and see that what has been agreed upon will be implemented. “We haven’t got a solution,” he said. “It can only come out of a panel”.

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