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RAAF chief disappointed with local council development approvals

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 28, 2013
Port Stephens' pursuit of income will expose more people to F/A-18 noise. (Dave Parer)
Port Stephens’ pursuit of income will expose more people to F/A-18 noise. (Dave Parer)

Port Stephens Council has managed to upset the single largest employer in the area with the approval of residential developments within established noise contours around RAAF Base Williamtown.

The Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown has expressed his disappointment with a decision by the council to exempt developments that will be exposed to noise from fast jets operations.

“Home owners that purchase these new developments are acquiring properties that will be exposed to high levels of aircraft noise both now with F/A-18A/B Hornets and F-35A in the future,” Brown said in a statement.

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Aircraft noise has been a long-standing issue in the area, with the Department of Defence having spent considerable public funds to acquire noise-affected properties surrounding the air base. The RAAF has also made efforts to mitigate  impacts through the acquisition of affected properties and modifications to flight practices and flightpaths.

The recent move by the council, which co-leases Newcastle Airport together with Newcastle City Council from the Department of Defence, demonstrates a similar short-sightedness afflicting other councils that allow residential developments surrounding commercial airports, but arguably more so in Port Stephens given the expected increase in noise impacts at RAAF Williamtown with the arrival of the F-35.

The placement of a higher value on local government incomes rather than minimising exposure to noise is set to create yet more noise-related complaints in a region that already suffers from high levels of activity at the Salt Ash Air Weapons range.

“We will continue to work with the Williamtown community through our fly neighbourly policies. However our focus will be on working with existing home owners,” Brown added.

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13 Comments

  • Dane

    says:

    I wonder if the local government will try to force the RAAF to leave Williamtown because too many noise complaints are being made by people who knowingly moved into the vicinity of the base. What a joke this is.

  • Jumbo

    says:

    When the noise complaints roll in, at least the archives will show the evidence of Defence fighting to quash the development and call out the councils ill judgement. “We told you so” comes to mind. Unfortunately the only outcome for the RAAF will be even more restrictive ‘Fly neighbourly’ procedures.

  • Michael

    says:

    So max A.B. over the new housing developments in the future then??

  • Allan

    says:

    Why not Michael? It is always nice to hear max AB in jets. Wish I lived in an area with mil jets operating, and I would buy a block of land there no problems.

  • Chris Jarrett

    says:

    Like building next to a piggery and then complaining about the smell – there had better not be a peep of protest from anyone living in this new estate. A case study of local councils lacking any insight or broader considerations beyond roads, rates and rubbish.

  • Maurice Dee

    says:

    Surely any property purchaser in the affected area should be made to sign a legal disclaimer related to the potential increase in noise.

  • Mal Smith

    says:

    I can feel a little AB activity coming on over the on-site sales office when they start selling these lots. BTW, there’s always the Land and Environment Court to tie it up in for the foreseeable future ….

  • Terry

    says:

    What’s the bet there is a developer hoping this forces the RAAF to acquire the land from them and it would be interesting to follow any trail from the developer to the Port Stephens council.

  • I'm Here

    says:

    What this report fails to highlight is that one of the developers is in fact the local Mayor (as reported in the Port Stephens Examiner), who is also the man that is mining the backside out of Stockton Beach while supporting the removal of 4WDing in the area due to the fragile nature of the dunes!

    Yep, this place is a joke.

  • random

    says:

    Make every real estate sale and re-sale within the area (new or exisitng property) subject to purchaser acknowledgement of aircraft noise. To achieve this, legislate at State and / or Federal level to make it a mandatory element of the legal conveyency process, akin to building, pest, council approvals and finance caveats. Then put whopping minimum fine on any real estate agent, developer, or conveyency service that does not provide full disclosure with a comprehensive fact sheet. That way the purchaser has no leg to stand on…. If they want the house, they have to live with all current and any future changes to noise.

  • Ric Lasslett

    says:

    I suggest Air Force erect signs on roadsides leading each development site clearly stating :
    “This area subject to extreme aircraft noise as required to protect Australia”

  • Tom

    says:

    The Local Council need to advertise the sale of these homes in Magzines like Australian Aviation and Combat Aircraft Monthly with the spin that they are specially placed for Fast Air nutters who want to get woken up by the roar of low flying Hornets on a rgular basis.

  • paul davis

    says:

    I would buy the whole site.Jet noise rules.

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