Since the 12th of January Council and I have received a surge of noise complaints substantially from Bellvista, Little Mountain and Pelican Waters residents concerned about a major increase in helicopter flights over residential areas.
Although not helped by the new Noosa Council recently shutting down the Teewah airstrip, these flights are largely generated from new intensive training programs by businesses not based at the Caloundra aerodrome but using the Caloundra facility as a site for repetitive training circuits. Although this is currently a legitimate use, its disregard and high impact on surrounding residents means it is not a suitable use and is seriously diminishing the communities’ good will towards what is otherwise the successful operation of the aerodrome.
For the record, I strongly support the Caloundra aerodrome as I do our aviation industries in the area but with two conditions; first, that helicopter noise over nearby residences did not significantly increase, and second, that there was an eventual relocation of all intensive helicopter training circuits away from residential areas.
This new activity does generate an unacceptable amount of distress for many local residents and negotiations about the location of a satellite facility with the State and relevant private entities have stalled.
In response, I will support immediate measures to restrict external operators from using Caloundra aerodrome for commercial training programs and am calling on the State and relevant private operators to meet with Council urgently to accelerate the location and building of a suitable satellite site, away from residences, from which to run helicopter training programs.
If we cannot make progress in this way, whilst acknowledging that Council does not control the airspace, my position is that I will ask Council to consider whatever additional actions are necessary to address the problem, which could also include the introduction of landing fees or other land use restrictions within our control.
Council is currently developing a new web page to help the community better understand who controls what and to help residents log noise complaints. I believe this will support the work of the local community associations and make the process of making noise complaints easier and more efficient.
The Caloundra Aerodrome is an important base for emergency services, air cadets and local business and its future security and development has been well planned and documented through a recently endorsed master plan. This unwelcome spike in helicopter noise must not be allowed to threaten its successful future as part of our region. I encourage residents with concerns to contact council’s call centre so that their complaints are formally recorded with us and so they can be also directed to the appropriate aviation authority.
For further details contact Cr Rick Baberowski on 0409 698 344