Much of public access at Tuesday’s Lismore Council meeting was taken up by residents distressed by the amount of aircraft noise in areas of town.
At the meeting, Mayor Vanessa Ekins moved that Council consult with the community and key stakeholders on addressing aircraft noise and future desires for the airport and that the results of the consultation be reported back to councillors at a briefing.
Mayor Ekins said that owing to changing use of the airport and complaints from the community about aircraft noise and flight paths, it is worth having a conversation with our community about aviation rights and responsibilities, good neighbour policies and Council’s role and the future of the airport.
‘The consultation process could start with a targeted “Your Say” forum which will inform a key stakeholders’ face to face session.
During public access Judith Forsyth, Lindy McPhee and Philippa Cutter used their four minutes to ask Council for help.
Residents would welcome consultation
Ms Forsyth said she would very much welcome any consultation process as far as flights and flight paths were concerned.
’A number of suburbs such as Girard’s Hill, Lismore South, Lismore North and others, are particularly impacted by flight noise from small aircraft which are largely flight training schools and private planes, the worst of which are the twin-engine planes, they are extremely noisy,’ she told the meeting.
Ms Forsyth said she wanted to make it clear that she had no problem with community service aircraft, REX or any other flight services that are related to providing Community Services.
‘We are primarily concerned with the noise made from flight training circuits and those that fly over as visitors to Lismore from outer regions who do circuits over the residential areas.’
Resident will not be bullied
Lindy McPhee said that she was speaking during public access somewhat reluctantly, as she has seen, with dismay, how some people have been treated for speaking up.
‘I will not be silenced by bullying or demonizing. Please hear me out,’ she said
‘We live near the airport and have a fairly good view of how things operate. We know that REX flights have been decimated and we may lose regular commercial flights altogether.
‘The rescue helicopter is now located at the airport after upgrading to much louder and bigger machinery and the amount of small plane flights has increased significantly.’
Ms McPhee said she is aware of the need for an increase in air traffic to make the airport viable and maybe capture opportunities for air related businesses.
‘Our issue relates to the loss of quiet enjoyment of our farm. This is a result of light aircraft that are low flying, are noisy and frequently flying over our house. It’s the combination of these three more than just one aspect.
‘Some aircraft are flying so low, they would be below CASA requirements. Some aircraft is so noisy, we can clearly hear them more than five kilometres from our home, and on some days, we have planes doing circuits continuously over our house.
‘Flights can start early in the morning. It can also be almost constant with several planes doing four minutes circuits at once. It can be late into the evening and it can be on weekends.
We’re not asking for silence
Ms McPhee said that living close to town and an airport she accepts she will not have perfect quiet.
‘We’re not asking for silence. We are asking that local aircraft vary their flight patterns, the old noisy aircraft are flown less, and that little common decency is shown for the community by having flight free times.
‘I think those who use the airport have a responsibility. It’s up to them to initiate changes. Don’t blame the victims.’
Noise has been unbearable
Philippa Cutter said she is an extremely irritated resident.
‘I moved to Amaroo place East Lismore after the flood. And until last year it was a peaceful place. When I moved there, I thought it was a wonderful sanctuary, but the noise has been unbearable. I counted 20 times planes were going over us just in one half day. I’ve been woken up at 10 o’clock at night by them.
‘You try to ring someone or contact someone and you get nowhere. It’s not a peaceful way to live.’
Cr Neil Marks said he was curious to know about the volume of noise that certain planes put out.
‘I know in the automotive industry, there are recommendations and decibels, there are exhausts on cars and the like that they have to have. So, who do we get into the room to explain to us what regulations there may or may not be on aircraft and those sorts of things? How are we going to choose the stakeholders in this?’
Deputy Mayor Darlene Cook wanted to look at the points about people being woken at 10 o’clock at night.
‘My question is, is there a curfew on airport operations in Lismore? Like there are a lot of airports? And is there a flight free day do the residents have a response from airport activities at all?’
Council staff say that council has applied for grant funding through three funding streams for the preparation of a master plan for the airport which will address the future direction for the airport and supporting infrastructure. The planning and provision of supporting airport infrastructure for the future will provide the opportunity to consider airport operations as part of the community and stakeholder engagement for the master planning project.
In anticipation of this grant funding being made available in the near future, staff will develop the ‘Your Say’ forum to provide airport data and information to the community and seek feedback that will assist in drafting the community engagement plan for the master planning process.
Cr Ekins put the motion to a vote and it was passed unanimously.