DEFICIT" ON FLIGHT PATHS COMMUNITY CONSULTATION
25 SEPTEMBER 2020
Flight Path Forum
(FPF) participated in a meeting on Saturday, September 19, with
Airservices Australia (ASA) to map out the way forward for ASA’s
proposed Post-Implementation Review (PIR) of the new Sunshine
Coast flight paths.
community outcry, led by FPF in 2019, resulted in the highly
critical report from the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) of ASA’s
community consultation on the proposed flight paths.
At the meeting,
Donna Marshall of ASA, acknowledged, “Airservices clearly
has a trust deficit with the community and it will be a long
road back, but we are committed to a genuine community
engagement process for the Post-Implementation Review”.
Flight Path Forum, Vivien Griffin, said “A real opportunity
for an improvement in the flight paths exists through genuine
community engagement, but there can be no green light for the
Terms of Reference for the PIR until the community has
confidence in the process, with clearly defined principles and
criteria, information sharing, and transparency”.
A draft Terms of
Reference was tabled at the meeting by ASA. However, FPF and
other community representatives were adamant the first priority
must be the development of a Community Engagement process for
the review which demonstrates genuine collaboration. This,
together with clearly defined principles, will form the
framework for the Terms of Reference and define how it is
“As a result of
our efforts, we were delighted ASA agreed at the meeting to
provide a draft community engagement process and framework
principles before finalising the Terms of Reference,” said
Flight Path Forum
successfully lobbied for community groups, from areas newly
overflown and impacted by the new flight paths, to have a seat
at the table for these discussions. Brett De Chastel, CEO of
Noosa Council, attended the meeting in person. The Aircraft
Noise Ombudsman, Keiran Phem, State Representatives Fiona
Simpson, Sandy Bolton, Sunshine Coast Councillor Maria Saurez,
and others, participated via video link.
COAST FLIGHT PATHS RAISED IN PARLIAMENT
14 SEPTEMBER 2020
Federal MP Llew
O’Brien has exposed Airservices Australia and Sunshine Coast
Council’s failures in Parliament, calling them to account for
better community consultation on new flight paths for the
Sunshine Coast Airport.
MP for Wide Bay,
Llew O’Brien has exposed Airservices Australia’s flaws and
mishandling of the new flight paths, and indeed those of all
agencies involved in the process, including Sunshine Coast
Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives said there
had been numerous flaws in the assessment and consultation
processes with the Sunshine Coast community, especially the
thousands of residents most affected by the new flight paths.
He said the
Aircraft Noise Ombudsman’s (ANO) report into the issue had
confirmed just how poorly Airservices Australia and all
involved agencies had performed in the process.
“I took these
concerns to the Government and to Airservices Australia
repeatedly, and I received repeated assurances that the
agencies had done their jobs appropriately. I raised these
concerns in the Parliament, and sought to have documents
tabled, from hundreds of constituents, their submissions
detailing the problems."
finally have the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman’s report which
provides a detailed critique of the flaws in the process and
it has made strong recommendations vindicating Flight Path
Forum’s work,” the MP said of the community group formed
to ensure the thousands of affected residents were given a
voice in a process designed to silence them.
Australia now has the opportunity to show it has learned its
lessons and genuinely engage with Flight Path Forum."
“I say thank
you to Flight Path Forum which prepared an excellent
research paper and research material into the proposed
flight paths for Sunshine Coast Airport. They identified
numerous flaws in the assessment and consultation processes
by nearly every agency involved."
Flight Path Forum, the community and the ANO for their work
and look forward to the ASA honouring its implementation of
A damning report
from the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman has vindicated the massive
outcry by northern Sunshine Coast residents in 2019 in
response to proposed new flight paths linked to the new
Sunshine Coast Airport runway.
watchdog group Flight Path Forum says the report is a powerful
indictment of the massive flaws which occurred in the
community consultation by Airservices
Australia. “At last this report affirms the
complaints of residents, and points to a way forward which can
give hope to affected residents,” said FPF spokesperson Vivien
“In essence, the
Aircraft Noise Ombudsman has recommended that Airservices
Australia go back to the drawing board with regard to flight
path design and to engage with the community in doing so,”
said Ms. Griffin.
recommendation is for ASA to implement, as soon as
practicable, a post-implementation review process for the
Sunshine Coast flight path designs. This process
should consider identified community-suggested alternatives
and a community engagement process that provides genuine
opportunities for community contributions to influence
“Regrettably it seems that
Airservices Australia is seeking to delay this process and
cause further grief and distress to affected
residents. Their response to this recommendation is
to give them 12 months to gather operational data, meaning
that the outcomes of the post-implementation review may not be
known for a further 18 months,” said Ms. Griffin.
Forum has vowed to seek a shorter review
process. “If ASA are genuine about improved
community engagement, they will work with us in designing the
post-implementation review and timelines.”
GROUP UNCOVERS AVIATION SAFETY HAZARD CONCEALED BY SUNSHINE
group Flight Path Forum (FPF) has unearthed a major public
and aviation hazard linked to the proposed Sunshine Coast
Airport Expansion Project. FPF says the hazard should have
been disclosed and assessed in the Council's 2014
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) but this was never
done. Consequently, all subsequent Commonwealth and State
approvals have been built on a flawed foundation.
major public and aviation safety risk linked to the project
has been known to the SCC since 2013" said Flight Path Forum
President Cheryl Sykes. "This relates to flyrock, dust and
shock wave impacts from blasting operations at a hard rock
quarry site located directly under the critical low altitude
arrival and departure flight paths proposed for the new
Terms of Reference for the airport EIS required the Council,
as proponent of project, to provide information on all
hazards associated with the new runway and flight paths. Yet
the serious hazard of the hard rock quarry was not disclosed
in the EIS prepared by SCC, and reliance on the EIS by all
other State and Commonwealth approval agencies, including
CASA, Airservices Australia, the Coordinator-General and the
Queensland Treasury Corporation has compounded the issue."
said Ms. Sykes.
withholding of this information is a very serious matter. We
note that S.1570 of the State Development and Public Works
Organisation Act (1971) states:
person must not, in relation to the performance of the
Coordinator-General's functions, give the
Coordinator-General a document containing information the
person knows is false or misleading in a material
the documentation we have provided of the omission of any
reference to the known public and aviation safety risks from
the hard rock quarry, we believe it is imperative that the
Office of the Coordinator-General urgently investigate the
reasons for the withholding of this critical safety
information in the Environmental Impact Statement provided
to them in 2014.
additional concern are the financial implications of this
non-disclosure. The Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion project
has required significant financial investment, with a
Commonwealth concessional loan of $181M and a commercial
operating partnership with Palisade Investment Partners with
a lifetime value of $605M being secured. However, it
is unclear whether all stakeholders have been informed of
the aviation safety risk and operational efficiency risk
argued by Council in the Court. What is clear though is that
the community was most definitely denied the opportunity to
examine and comment on these risks."
believe that the withholding of serious hazard risk
information has irreparably tainted all subsequent approval
processes since 2013 at both State and Commonwealth
Government levels and the consequences are far-reaching.
This failed process has produced proposed flight paths in
which there is now an embedded safety risk. We strongly
content that it is unacceptable for the community, the
travelling public and the aviation industry to be forced to
now accept the risk of an in-air aviation incident as
unavoidable, inevitable and permanent."
we are demanding an urgent, comprehensive, transparent
review of the currently proposed flight paths."
EIS for the airport expansion project was being prepared by
SCC between 2012 and 2014. During the very same period,
Council was defending an appeal in the Planning and
Environment Court for the development of a hard rock quarry
at Yandina Creek. (Parklands Blue Metal Pty Ltd vs Sunshine
Coast Regional Council & Ors ).
flight path routes for the airport project had been
developed in 2012 prior to awareness of the proposed new
quarry. SCC subsequently received in-principle approval from
Airservices Australia to enable inclusion in the EIS.
Critical low altitude arrival and routes fly directly over
the quarry and have never been changed.
was made aware of the public and aviation safety risks from
blasting at the quarry in July 2013. At that time, the
aviation expect who had designed the flight path concepts
advised. "My opinion is that blasting at the location is
completely incompatible with aviation activities involving
approach and departure of commercial aircraft at low
altitudes in critical phases of flight given the new
runway location. For a conclusive assessment a full
aeronautical risk study should be carried out by the
council to assess the impact on flying operations
associated with the new runway prior to issuing any
approvals for such activities."
Council discovered this, it took the aviation safety risk so
seriously that leave was sought from the Court to add this
to the grounds for refusal of the quarry. Council
subsequently vigorously prosecuted the safety risks from the
quarry. Expert evidence from the court hearings is on the
Court subsequently acknowledged the aviation risk from
operations of the quarry, and imposed conditions to
ameliorate those risks ie. aeronautical study and blast
management protocols. However, those conditions have never
been finalised and so the matter of public and aviation
safety remains unresolved. Moreover, neither the
Coordinator-General, CASA, Airservices Australia have
provided evidence of any assessment of these risk, and
consequently, both aviation companies and the general public
have been denied the opportunity for consultation on this