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Byron Shire
January 21, 2022

‘No’ to increased flight training

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The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don't be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

Regarding theLismore Residents Action Group say ‘no’ to increased flight training article.

When I rang the Lismore City Council to ask how to complain about noise pollution coming from flights overhead, I had a similar experience of ‘handballing’ that was described in the article. I was told it had nothing to do with the Council and to contact Airservices Australia. This was, of course, a dead end. After some feelings of frustration, I realised that it is in fact the Council’s responsibility. It is the Council that provides approval and makes agreements with the pilot schools. Therefore, it is the Council’s responsibility to directly influence the conditions around how, when, and where these flight schools operate.

In my view, the results from the recent ‘have your say’ survey conducted by Lismore City Council and published in The Echo, did not genuinely reflect the views of those affected by the noise pollution. As mentioned in the ‘no to increased flights’ article, the survey was conducted at a time when the flights were few and therefore not a current concern of many residents. In addition, the statistic that 85.2 per cent of the 1,000 respondents ticked a box stating that there had been no increase in flight noise in recent years, indicated that those respondents live outside of earshot of the planes. Anyone who has lived and worked in the area of the flight circuits, such as myself, would confirm that there has been a definite increase in noise pollution from the flight school planes overhead in recent years.

Though I have no confirmation, it is my understanding that Lismore City Council is aiming to make Lismore Airport one of the busiest between Sydney and Brisbane. I have heard that they plan to open the airport to international flight schools from Indonesia and China and possibly elsewhere, as soon as the borders are open. The experience we had in the past when there were often flights flying low over our homes, businesses, clinics and schools sometimes at a rate of once every 10-15 minutes, for hours and hours on end, at any time of the day on any day, may increase to intolerable levels.

I have lived and worked as a clinical psychologist serving my beloved community in Lismore since 1993. I am very aware of what is needed for individual and community psychological health. Uncertainty, being deceived, losing the power to say what happens in our neighbourhood as well as noise pollution are not conducive to positive mental health, wellbeing, happiness, workplace morale and professional productivity.

During the last few months of border closures, the noise levels have been more tolerable. However, during busy times when I was providing online individual counselling and coaching, as well as skills development groups, the noise levels detrimentally disrupted the professional services and possibly negatively affected the clients. At the time I wondered how many other professional services were being interrupted. During those busy times I was also concerned about the impact of the noise on children in schools trying to learn, children with attention filtering problems such as those with ADHD and on the autistic spectrum, adults with stress and trauma issues who are easily triggered, as well as everyone in our neighbourhood who needs, enjoys and has a right to the peace of quietude in the refuge of their own homes.

Rather than being deceptive, perhaps Lismore City Council could be completely transparent about what they wish for Lismore Airport and to inform the public. This transparency could include accurate calculations about how many flights, the circuits they will fly, how many circuits per day, what days and what hours they hope for. Research could also be directed at considering the impact of disruption, stress and possible suffering this may cause to the individuals, businesses, organisations, schools and clinics below. Perhaps then they could engage in genuine and honest community consultation with those who are directly affected.

What I am wishing for is that there can be some respectful and compassionate consideration for those beneath the flight circuits. Rather than leaving residents feeling powerless, disregarded and not heard, perhaps there could be some compromises. Such compromises could include: designated pilot school flight free days during the week and/or the weekends, curfews around the hours they fly, switching the direction of take-off and therefore the circuits they fly so that they are not always over residential areas.

I hope that the new Council will value Lismore residents’ welfare, work capacity, wellbeing and peace as a much greater treasure than the profits from international or domestic flight schools, mostly from areas outside our own LGA.

Malcolm Huxter, Girards Hill


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3 COMMENTS

  1. just buy some ear muffs or move to a town without an airport, most people dont even think twice about the sound of aircrafts flying over head which is clearly shown by the survey results

  2. I love how clinical psychologists come up with solutions for aviation. The aviation industry has a solution for clinical psychologists – don’t move to a property near a busy airport in a country town that needs the employment and income that the airport and associated aviation industry provides.

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