This Thursday (April 20) Byron Shire councillors will consider whether to allow the expansion of Tyagarah Airfield to include a proposed heliport development.
The decision, which would require a change to the 2014 Byron Local Environment Plan (LEP), has been strongly criticised by members of the Saddle Ridge Community Action Group and community councillor Cate Coorey.
The group says the proposal would allow up to 10 flights a day from the airport and adds that the noise from the choppers would be louder than a jumbo jet.
The report before council acknowledges that the current LEP provisions prohibit heliports and ‘restrict the ability to subdivide land.’
‘The amendment will allow council to consider the future use of the airport by helicopters and subdivide the land so that it is more suitable for a range of future aviation-related land uses,’ the report states.
Part of the recommendation would be to excise an area of the airport land containing core koala habitat and rezone it as community land.
But Saddle Ridge Community Group president Matthew O’Reilly said that if accepted the decision would ‘pave the way for a private helicopter company to set up scenic helicopter joy flights out of Tyagarah airfield.’
‘Byron Council’s own modelling predicts a minimum of six helicopter joy flights on each weekday and at least 8-10 joy flights per day on weekends and holidays,’ Mr O’Reilly said.
‘It also leaves open the possibility of a heliport offering regular helicopter transport between Byron and Gold Coast Airport and Ballina Airport.’ The possibility of a helicopter flying school has also been raised.
‘Monitoring of aircraft noise at Chinderah from the Gold Coast Airport by the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman indicates that helicopter noise is louder than the noise from Boeing and Airbus jumbo jets taking off and landing,’ Mr O’Reilly said.
The group has called on residents who are concerned about the prospect of the heliport to email to Byron Shire councillors.
‘The whole proposal has had next to no public engagement and very few people even know of the looming disaster we face,’ Mr O’Reilly said.
Cr Cate Coorey has a separate motion that would see development of a heliport put on hold until an assessment of noise impacts is made and a full income and expenditure and profit and loss statements of the airfield are prepared, among other provisions.
Cr Coorey said there was a significant difference between the term ‘heliport’, which could include a terminal and hangars, and ‘helipad”, which would be a simple landing place not open to the public.
She told Echonetdaily ‘I can’t believe the previous council saw fit not to consult the community when they were proposing to increase air traffic over Byron in this way.’
The planning proposal and associated reports are located here starting at page 431: http://byron.infocouncil.biz/Open/2017/04/OC_20042017_ATT_605.PDF