’Trust deficit’ on flight path community consultation

An 'Aircraft Viewing Platform' set up by community members in protest to the new flight paths.

Airservices Australia has admitted to a “trust deficit“ with the Sunshine Coast community at a recent meeting set to map out the way forward in a review of controversial flight path changes.

Community watchdog group Flight Path Forum (FPF) met with Airservices Australia (ASA) to discuss ASA’s proposed Post-Implementation Review (PIR) of Sunshine Coast flight path changes.

A massive community outcry guided by FPF in 2019 led to the highly critical report from the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) of ASA’s community consultation on flight paths for the Sunshine Coast Airport.

Noosa Council CEO Brett De Chastel attended the video link meeting on Saturday 19 September, along with the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman Keiran Phem, State Representatives Fiona Simpson, Sandy Bolton, Sunshine Coast Councillor Maria Saurez.

During the meeting, Donna Marshall of ASA said, “Airservices clearly has a trust deficit with the community and it will be a long road back, but we are committed to a genuine community engagement process for the Post-Implementation Review”.

Spokesperson for Flight Path Forum, Vivien Griffin, said “A real opportunity for an improvement in the flight paths exists through genuine community engagement but there can be no green light for the Terms of Reference for the PIR until the community has confidence in the process with clearly defined principles and criteria, information sharing, and transparency.”

A draft Terms of Reference was tabled at the meeting by ASA.

FPF and other community representatives were adamant the first priority had to be the development of a Community Engagement process for the review that demonstrates genuine collaboration. This, together with clearly defined principles, will form the framework for the Terms of Reference and define how it is managed.

“As a result of our efforts, we were delighted ASA agreed at the meeting to provide a draft community engagement process and framework principles before finalising the Terms of Reference,” Ms Griffin said.

Flight Path Forum successfully lobbied for community groups, from areas newly overflown and impacted by the new flight paths, to have a seat at the table for these discussions.

Flight Path Forum membership includes many individual members and Sunshine Coast community resident associations, including Castaways Beach Residents Association; Peregian Beach Community Association; Friends of Lake Weyba; Yandina Creek Progress Association; Peregian West Community Association; Verrierdale Residents Group, Mudjimba Residents Association and Friends of Marcus Beach.

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