A Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project update will be discussed as noted in the agenda for Sunshine Coast Council’s Special Meeting to be held on the 23rd May. Click this link for the full agenda https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/…/Meetings-Minutes-and….

The problem is that the critical date of completing the design of the airspace and flight paths by Jun 2019, seems to leave little room for any changes that might arise out of community consultation feedback, nor time to either produce or complete required environmental impact assessments that have not yet been mentioned in any formal documentation.

Airservices have been criticised at other locations for their lack of consultation and meeting environmental accountabilities. So much so, they even put out their own report titled ‘Review into processes associated with aircraft noise management’, Dec 2017. This report identified the following issues:

1. Lack of prioritisation of flight path changes can misalign timeframes for delivery of necessary work to inform robust decision making (includes flight path design, environmental assessment and consideration of risks, community consultation).

2. The Targeted Environmental Assessment (a compliance assessment against the EPBC Act), is not always sufficiently robust (ie assessment of whether a flight path change will be ‘noticeable’ to a community as opposed to just the pure ‘technical’ noise level.)

3. Consultation required as a result of a proposed change is in some cases, inadequate both from a timeliness and breadth perspective due to a cack of appreciation for the broader community impact of the proposed change.

The report made the following recommendations:

1. Improve application of Airservices AA-NOS-ENV-2.100 and Risk Management Framework

2. Build an “Environment by Design” culture. This point states “Implement an effective change management process for flight path changes to ensure the appropriate subject matter expert are part of the initial design scope (flight path design, environment, community impact should all be considered at the preliminary design stage).

3. Fix the prioritisation pipeline.

4. Enhance the Technical Environment Assessments. “Clearly articulate assessment undertaken against the EPBC criteria (is the change “potentially significant”?) and other criteria used more broadly to inform the environmental risk assessment.

5. Improve community consultation activities. This included points such as, “ensure timely information is provided to potentially impacted communities”, “outcome of community consultation is used to inform the go/no go decision – with an iterative process in place (re-work, further consultation if required before change is implemented)” and “ensure adequate information is documented in the stakeholder engagement plan (SEP) (and execution) so the change and potential impact is clear. This point also states at point 5.3 SEP should cover potentially impacted communities based on likelihood to “notice a difference” not based only on the EPBC trigger metrics.

So the question is, will Airservices be driven by consultation feedback or council’s critical dates?