• ‘False hope’: Flight path opponents shut down at round table. by FELICITY RIPPER SUNSHINE COAST DAILY
    7th Jul 2019 12:01 AM
    Subscriber only

    FLIGHT Path Forum president Maria Suarez says opponents of the proposed new flight paths, for the expanded Sunshine Coast Airport, weren’t given a fair opportunity to express their concerns at a round table discussion.

    Ms Suarez said her group had alternative flight paths to present at Friday’s meeting but were told on Thursday by Airservices Australia that designs would only be considered if they were submitted to AirServices within a six-week consultation period, which ended on April 30.

    She said the alternative flight paths put forward by Airservices Australia during the round table were highly constrained by Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Impact Study noise swathes.

    “During that community consultation period Sunshine Coast Council and Airservices Australia never told communities of the limiting parameters,” she said.

    “The community’s hopes were falsely raised.

    “This meeting was touted to be a stakeholder round table, but that’s never what it was,” Ms Suarez said.

    Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien said it was a loss for the community that Flight Path Forum had no alternatives to present at the round table discussion.

    But Ms Suarez hit back saying it would have been irresponsible to do so.

    “We would not just put lines down on paper,” she said.

    “You need to make sure those communities under those lines aren’t going to be adversely affected first.”

    Ms Suarez said she emailed Ted O’Brien on June 20 outlining, in text, an alternative flight path that the forum wanted considered.

    Flight Path Forum decided an inland western approach would be a “good alternative” to investigate with hopes of it having less impact on the community and the environment.

    Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said throughout the round table there were passing references to a couple of alternative flight paths that were considered early in the EIS process.

    “…but no one present appeared able to fully outline the range of flight paths that were considered and rejected,” Cr Wellington said.

    “Requests have been made for documents that may reveal more information about this process.”

    He said the bulk of the meeting was taken up by “lengthy” and “at times unnecessary” presentations from the Sunshine Coast Council and Airservices Australia, which limited the opportunity for open discourse.

    Cr Wellington and Ms Suarez agreed there had been shortcomings in the process of determining flight paths, including the data used to determine the number of residents affected, the types of aircraft to use the new runway and the consultation with the community.

    “Speaking for myself, I can only say that I left feeling that the meeting was useful primarily because the Noise Ombudsman was present to witness the calibre of our resident representatives,” Cr Wellington said.

    “What is very clear is that the Sunshine Coast Council believes that the original EIS process was sufficient to deliver information to residents, and that the recent AirServices Australia consultation on the flight path changes was perfectly adequate.”

    “I pointed out that there has been considerable turnover in residents since the EIS, and thus 30 to 40 per cent of affected residents would not have been living here at the time of the EIS process.

    “For those hundreds of residents, the whole flight path issue is thus new, and somewhat surprising.”

    Cr Wellington said there was no suggestion of a further round table meeting to cover issues that weren’t able to be discussed on Friday, nor an opportunity to raise the matter of an evening curfew on the airport.

    “In the last few days, council has again written to Airservices Australia and the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman with detailed grievances about the ASA-led consultation,” he said.

    “We will continue to lobby for a better consultation process and a more genuine engagement with impacted residents.”

  • Rod Ritchie What an arrogant response from the Round Table to the very real concerns put forward by FPF. And thank you FPF for refusing to table alternative flight paths. This bait and switch tactic would have meant ASA could immediately respond that the western paths were out of the EIS zone, and therefore not acceptable. As it is, FPF have left themselves open to further options.

    Hopefully, such a one-sided meeting format will be avoided in the future. When the government and their agencies embark on a deliberate plan to limit the opportunity for open discourse you understand what you are up against.

    Thank you Maria and committee for taking an ethical approach to a community dilemma.