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Byron Shire
May 16, 2021

Keep airport domestic

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I am pleased to see so many Tweed residents expressing their very legitimate concerns about the planned growth of Gold Coast Airport and in particular international traffic growth. Tweed residents are justifiably incensed at ASA’s practice of sending as many flights as possible over our suburbs. This is in breach of their own official policy of ‘sharing the noise around’.

We are asked to accept the commonly thrown-up argument that ‘the airport was here first so present residents have no right to complain’. I think we all accept the fact that we had a domestic airport which would undoubtedly grow but the use of this airport by heavy international aircraft, loaded with enormous amounts of fuel to reach overseas destinations, is simply too horrific to contemplate!

(The A330 Airbus that flies from Coolangatta to Tokyo can carry almost 140,000 litres of fuel!)

I believe the planned expansion is simply unjustified, unnecessary and unsafe – a disaster waiting to happen!

The use of Coolangatta is unnecessary, with Brisbane designed as a modern international airport and just as accessible to the major accommodation centres of the northern Gold Coast.

And now, with the Commonwealth Games in 2018, we can expect pressure from the money-hungry private airport owners to ramp up the number of international flights. As with power generation, the handing over of our airports to private corporations has been a disaster for the public with the maximisation of their ‘bottom line’ the only consideration.

Older residents will remember how the grassy tree-lined airport entrance has been transformed into an obscene sea of vinyl-covered car spaces to rake in the dollars from exorbitant parking fees; how new airport buildings are occupied by many businesses with no relation to the aviation industry. The university is a good example. Yet they cannot provide the most basic of international passenger comforts – air-bridges to convey passengers from terminal to aircraft. How we must be the laughing stock of overseas tourists!

Queenslanders living in Tugun and Currumbin, whose politicians have greater political clout than our ineffectual members, have been able to have as many flights as possible sent over our Tweed suburbs; they should be bringing that same pressure on their politicians again to ensure that the planned expansion does not become a reality on a runway completely unsuitable for huge international aircraft, especially with its archaic instrument-landing facilities.

Having flights directed over Tweed may rid them of much aircraft noise but it puts them in the firing line of a large, heavy aircraft over-running Runway 32 (to the north) with homes a bare 500 metres from the end of Runway 32.

Some readers may recall the over-running of a Qantas B747 at Bangkok in 1999. Bangkok’s international runway is 4km long with 1.5km of over-run area before houses. Landing distance available at Coolangatta’s Runway 32, even with the planned 300m extension, will be only 2.34km long with barely 500m to Boyd Street from the northern end. The potential for a tragedy is clear.

And what guarantee have we that all pilots of these international aircraft will be as well-trained and -skilled as our own? We know of some in developing countries attempting to expand their fleets, with minimal pilot education, flying highly sophisticated aircraft that think for themselves and which, when receiving confusing computer inputs, can override the actions or intentions of even a highly skilled pilot, with tragic results.

GC should remain, as originally intended, for domestic airline traffic only and international travellers catered for by BN Airport, purpose-built for international flights and which, with the expanding rail network that will likely be fast-tracked for the Commonwealth Games, will be increasingly easily accessible from the north of the GC where the vast majority of tourist accommodation is centred. Locals will receive plenty of pain and little gain from the airport going international.

The great increase in noise from international flights will be mainly for the benefit of some overseas passengers but will be suffered by Tweed and southern Gold Coast residents who, unless heading for certain destinations in SE Asia, will still be using BN Airport for their long overseas flights.

The amount of pollution from the fallout of fuel-guzzling heavy jet aircraft will increase enormously, with resultant dangers to health and property.

The euphoria over gaining the 2018 Commonwealth Games will soon translate into increasing pressure for more and more international flights.

Why should the desire of the Airport Corporation to maximise their ‘bottom line’ be more important than the desires of thirty thousand Tweed residents?

I wish residents success in their efforts to prevent this proposed expansion of Coolangatta Airport but, from past experience with politicians and bureaucracies, know the challenge we face.

As we all well know, it seems that money is more important than lives and lifestyles where politicians are concerned.

George Beattie, Tweed Heads South

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  1. Hi George, I here you and fear for our future too! Australia is looking good by comparison to the rest of the world.
    More needs to be done to educate our young about preservation of this planet and simple pleasures of sharing time with each other. Too many iPod, iPads, computers, designer wear, jet setting, looking perfect and material gain. Why are we still unhappy! Got to slow down stop being so selfish. What happened to free thought?


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