It was standing room only for Friday morning’s Forum meeting to discuss the huge increase in Helicopter Noise. The forum was arranged by local MP Mark McArdle and in excess of 300 people from Bellvista, Bells Reach, Little Mountain, Pelican Waters, Golden Beach and other areas around Caloundra were in attendance.
BeCA presented around 40 letters and emails from Bellvista and Bells Reach residents unable to attend the Forum to our local M.P. prior to the meeting getting underway.
Click on the photo for a larger view.
As reported in an earlier post, there was some question as to what to be gained from this forum and what the hidden agenda may have been. This became obvious in the final few minutes of the forum when Mark McArdle produced a map provided by the State Government Minister for National Parks, Recreation, Sport & Racing, Steve Dickson indicating possible available areas for a future Helicopter Satellite Training Facility in nearby state forestry areas.
There is to be further consultation between Council, Sunshine Coast Airport Management, State Forestry officials and Becker Helicopters to determine the most suitable area. It is expected that this facility may be available for use by all helicopters doing touch n go’s in several months time.
What this means to our community is that the vast majority of helicopter touch n go’s by both Becker Helicopters and Chopperline will eventually occur at another site, thus removing the majority of them from above our homes. Becker Helicopters expect to complete the current phase of training some time next week. Then things should return to a form of normality.
Many views were raised across the Forum. Several in attendance supported the helicopters but they appeared to represent a small minority.
A letter from Mike Becker was read by Mark McArdle to all present. Sections of the letter confirmed that Becker Helicopters had legally and deliberately set out to spark debate by impacting upon local communities. The pain and discomfort inflicted upon our community was a deliberate tactic designed to spark public debate so Becker Helicopters could achieve their aim of creating a satellite helicopter training facility.
BeCA believes this to be a deplorable tactic for any business to inflict on a helpless community, to set out to severely disrupt their lifestyle for their own commercial gains defies contempt. Many in the audience believed that some of the claims in Mr Becker’s letter were misrepresentations of the facts! The letter was greeted with derision by many in attendance.
You can download the Mike Becker letter HERE. (It is a 375kb pdf file)
Cr Baberowski declared in his address that Becker helicopters would never return to Caloundra Aerodrome after the current training phase is completed.
Cr Tim Dwyer trotted out the old chestnut that the airport was there first and that people who elected to buy at Bellvista and Bells Reach should have done their homework before purchasing. Some residents at the forum felt Cr Dwyer’s comments appeared to show little concern for fellow residents and to be lacking any compassion or any appreciation of the reality of the situation. His comments were also greeted with some jeers and boos.
This sort of comment does not reflect the reality, there are residential areas around Caloundra Aerodrome and these residential areas are about to explode in size. There is a need for Caloundra Aerodrome to adapt to this huge change in circumstances. It needs to work hand in hand with the community so both can exist together in harmony. If Caloundra Aerodrome fails to adapt then it will encounter mammoth problems.
Mark McArdle congratulated BeCA on its doggedness to maintain the heat on this issue and to see it through to a conclusion which should suit all. BeCA President Les Thomas then congratulated the Bells Reach and Bellvista communities for their wonderful support in attending the forum meeting and by forwarding their emails and phone calls to the relevant groups.
An invitation has been extended to Sunshine Coast Airport General Manager Peter Pallot to attend the next BeCA Public Meeting in the old Land Sales Office on Monday March 3rd at 6:45pm. All Bellvista and Bells Reach residents are invited to attend. Cr Baberowski will also be in attendance. Both of these speakers will have the latest updates regarding the new Satellite Helicopter Training Facility.