Residents appeal to Federal Minister over flight path fight
FEDERAL Environment Minister Sussan Ley has been urged to intervene in the ongoing dispute over new Sunshine Coast Airport runway flight paths after a key community group obtained documents through freedom of information legislation.
Friends of Lake Weyba has written to the minister asking her to ensure her department examines all documents and processes involved in establishing the flight paths.
The Noise Ombudsman Narelle Bell is also due to report soon on her investigation into noise, pollution and amenity issues.
Friends of Lake Weyba president Anita Brake has asked Ms Ley to ensure all Sunshine Coast residents were being treated fairly and equitably and that the potential environmental and social impacts of the airport's new runway were fully considered.
Ms Brake said her organisation wanted to ensure relevant federal and state environment protection policies were being correctly applied to both the new runway and proposed flight paths.
"Despite confirming that a number of proposed newly overflown areas meet criteria for referral to the Environment Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC), Airservices Australia have failed to make referral," Ms Brake wrote.
In a letter sent on the weekend she alleged that Airservices Australia had incorrectly applied one of its own policies in relation to proposed flight paths to avoid undertaking an environmental impact assessment.
Should Environment Minister Sussan Ley intervene on the ongoing flight path debate?
Ms Brake has argued that simply mentioning new suburbs that would be over flown did not meet Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act referral criteria.
She said the Targeted Environment Impact Assessment compiled by Airservices Australia detailed existing and proposed flight paths and showed suburbs, including but not limited to Marcus Beach, Peregian Beach, Weyba Downs, Verrierdale and Yandina Creek, that would be overflown under the proposed northern flight paths.
Despite these likely to be subjected to more than 10 flights a day at various noise intensities no EPBC referral or even investigation had been made in relation to potential environmental and social impacts.
Ms Brake wrote that a freedom of information request by Friends of Lake Weyba had revealed the minister received no EPBC referrals relating to affected areas despite the requirement that "particular attention shall be given to assessing potential impacts on newly overflown rural-residential communities".
She said Weyba Downs was classed as rural-residential and bordered Lake Weyba, which was a Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia site that would be "significantly affected by the proposed arrival and departure flight paths".
The letter to Ms Ley said non-referral under the EPBC Act could not be justified on the basis that some suburbs had been mentioned in Environmental Impact Statement documents originally submitted by Sunshine Coast Council.
"These EIS documents do state that there would be a redistribution of flights over areas of the Sunshine Coast but fall short of providing a full environmental and social impact study for newly overflown areas," Ms Brake wrote.
"Critical information such as baseline ambient sound level monitoring was not provided for areas north of Coolum.
"If baseline ambient sound level measurements have not been made for newly overflown areas, how can it be determined if a significant impact would occur were the proposed flight paths to proceed".