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‘Stop acting like a country town’ – Brisbane Airport noise row deepens

written by Hannah Dowling | June 8, 2021

A fiery debate has entered the opinion column of local Queensland newspapers, as residents of Brisbane’s inner suburbs continue to lobby against excessive aircraft noise pollution.

Last week saw residents of Brisbane’s inner suburbs protest outside Brisbane Airport Corporation’s head office over “constant” noise pollution due to the new flight paths, which are a direct result of the airport’s newly-opened parallel runway.

Protestors were ultimately locked out of the BAC building, which only brought more buzz to the situation.

The issue essentially stems from residents being apparently fed incorrect information about how often flights would be taking off and landing in the direction over their homes, when public consultation periods were active.


According to local Green’s candidate Max Chandler-Mather, residents near the airport were told that the addition of the new parallel runway would see more flights taking off and landing over Moreton Bay, giving off the impression that following the opening of the new runway, additional aircraft noise would not be a huge concern.

“But instead, what we’ve seen is an unprecedented amount of flight traffic over some of the most densely populated areas of Brisbane,” Chandler-Mather said.

In the days since the protest, national chief operating officer of the Australian Industry Group Shane Rodgers penned an opinion piece in the Courier Mail arguing that Brisbane residents must get used to their new reality of living under a busy, noisy flight path, and “embrace the reality of becoming a large, internationally significant city”.

He argued that if residents wish to benefit from Brisbane’s expansion, in welcoming the G20 summit or the Olympic Games, they simply need to toughen up.

“This big thinking will require us to stop acting like a country town and acting surprised when the trappings of growth come with growing pains and side effects,” Rodgers said.

“If you live in an inner suburb in a city lucky enough to have an airport within 20 minutes of the CBD, noise is part of your life.”

It should be noted that Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) is a member of the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), of which Rogers is the COO.

“Frankly, if you have a particular problem with airport noise, or any other noise that comes with living in a busy city, you really should move somewhere quiet,” he added.

“Short of junking a $1.1 billion asset, it is hard to see any outcome from the current protests that would solve the noise issue to the satisfaction of the loudest protesters.”

The article was met with criticism, and in response, the Courier Mail columnist Mike O’Connor provided an opinion piece of his own in defence of the protestors.

O’Connor said Rodger’s “defence of [BAC’s] position” was “hardly surprising”, given his role at AIG, of which BAC is a member.

“The AIG argument is that the airport is essential to the economic prosperity of the city and if those who question its modus operandi are ­allowed, by weight of public opinion and political pressure to change the way it works, then the whole state will retreat into an economic Ice Age,” O’Connor penned.

“This is a laughable scare tactic to be treated with the derision it deserves.”

O’Connor argued that none of the protestors outside of BAC are advocating for the “junking” of the airport, as Rodgers suggested, and said “no good purpose is served by attempting to portray the residents as latter-day Luddites”.

“Their concerns are with flight paths and there are a number of retired and currently employed airline pilots who have made intelligent, considered suggestions as to how the air traffic control could be better managed,” O’Connor said.

“Whether this was by design is unknown, but people were lulled into the belief that there would be minimal impact on their quality of life.

“They believed the assurances ­contained in the glossy brochures and were ill-prepared for the ugly reality of aircraft rattling their windows as they roar a few hundred metres overhead, rendering conversation impossible.”

Australian Aviation reported in May 2020 that Brisbane’s new flight paths were coming into effect, following the opening of its new $1.1 billion runway.

It was reported at the time that under the new flight paths, aircraft would be able to take off over the bay at night, rather than across the city, reducing noise for locals.

It is likely that improving domestic traffic conditions has seen the noise pollution issue for local residents exacerbated in recent months.

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Comments (24)

  • Paul


    The airport is where it is.
    You knew that before you bought houses’ nearby.
    Can’t you afford noise-cancelling headsets or earplugs, if it’s so noisy? Simples.
    No sympathy for those who ignore facts.

    • Jeff


      Paul & Richard, my property in Mt Colah, Sydney is 35km from the Airport yet is subject to regular aircraft noise. It was purchased in the 80s and had little to no noise until just before the 2000 Olympics. Then aircraft began a ‘runway precision monitoring system’ approach and since then they fly over at 3000ft ASL (with elevation here already 600ft).

  • For years Redcliffe Peninsula residents have had to tolerate planes flying over Redcliffe at all hours.Those in the new flight path just put up with it,too precious .

  • John Vince


    I live in a, formally, very quiet suburb, 8km west of the center of Brisbane, and on the other side of Brisbane from the Airport. I certainly was not aware of the degree of impact of the aircraft noise that would result from the new runway. My understanding was that most planes would take off over Morton Bay, and indeed there was not much impact until about 6 weeks ago, when suddenly the aircraft noise was frequent and intrusive, even noticable inside, our closed bedroom with fan and air conditioning on. The noise occupies many minutes per hour, with usually 3 planes in succession every 1/2 to one hour, starting from 6:15am until before 10 at night. I contacted the Airport website regarding noise. I was basically sent something saying they had had meetings recently about people’s concerns, and sent a schedule of how many – dozens, of flights I could expect per day. I cannot imagine how bad those in closer suburbs are suffering, given how intrusive it is where I live.
    If we had known about the protest last week my wife and myself would have attended.
    The Corporate opinion piece stating that we had to basically lump it, is at best despicable.
    I know that domestic flight numbers have increased, but the very sudden increase in noise around 6 weeks ago, has to be from a decision to stop take offs over the Bay during the day, which they must have been doing. I realise that sometimes weather conditions might preclude taking this route, but there is obviously an alternative flight path, which we were benefiting from until recently, which will return our previous quiet environments to us inconsiderate, whinging, plebs, who don’t appreciate that we should be proud to suffer for Brisbane’s/Queensland’s prosperity.

    • Nev


      You say you live in BNE.
      If so, you should know that it’s Moreton Bay.

  • Helen


    Lies, lies and more lies. That is our new normal. We were told there would be little to no affect upon us and that is completely false.
    The noise and reverberation is constant where before we never heard heard a plane at all. So 300+ people have the right to shatter the peace and mental health of millions of people? No. There’s a whole bay out there – use that. I want the name of the organisers of the protest group. I’ll be at every protest.

  • Allan


    I find the protests somewhat amusing – I live directly under the older flight path (which is near the newer one – about 500 (?) meters different) as the currently level of traffic hasn’t returned to pre-covid levels so the noise will only increase as it returns to pre covid levels. I would imagine that alot of the protests are from new residents (and there has been ALOT of apartments being built in the area) not really understanding what they have gotten into. Unfortunately, this protest will only get louder as the old Hamilton port is further developed on the north side with the old Barracks and the last of the industrial area’s on the southern bank gets developed. As a fun aside – My grandmother lived nearby having moved in the late 40’s & the only time she complained about the noise was when an F-111 turned directly over her house (while performing an ILS landing) & just becouse it lasted a bit to long that time 🙂

    • Paul Hollands


      I think if you do some research you will find the aircraft noise issues cover a lot more real estate than you might think, i live in logan, some 40k from brisbane airport and we are being bombarded by aircraft noise constantly since 2020, i dont
      think the BAC has the god-given right to denigrate the peace and quiet of thousands of fed-up residents in the name of profit.

  • Kim Riley


    Western Sydney airport still hss no scheduled flight paths Western Sydney Residents will be as loud as s Brisbane residents when the Federal Government comes clean.

    Sill Federal government responsible for airports and aviation. Despite the airport franchise.

  • Deceptive BAC


    I purchased a home in Northgate having read all the glossy brochures, checked flight paths and the noise maps. The runway opened and we now experience twin prop after twin prop 500m above our house. Its enough to drive you mad. Their response? We couldn’t put twin props on any maps as they don’t have a flight path. Any halfwit can look at webtrak and know very well they follow one or two main routes over northgate. We were without a doubt, deliberately deceived. Its especially insulting to assume we’re against progress, such a tired line of attack from Shane Rodgers. Clearly an innovative thinker. I’m surprised he didn’t use phrases like “affluent suburbs” when referencing the impacted inner suburbs, just to really stir up the suburban readers. I hope shane and those responsible get a nice highway cut right through their backyard.

  • Richard M


    If you don’t like aircraft noise, don’t live near an airport. It’s like buying a house near a busy motorway and then complaining about the traffic noise.
    There’s always been an airport within this area and it’s only logical that with the passage of time they would get busier as our population grows.
    I remember when they moved the main Melbourne airport from Essendon to Tullamarine (which was then surrounded by open farmland), then local authorities allowed the land to be subdivided into residential lots. The people who then moved there knew they were moving close to an airport, yet they now complain about aircraft noise, who was there first, the airport or the people who now live there? If you don’t like the choices you Mae, move and stop complaining, we all have to accept responsibility for the choices we make.

  • Ben


    So nobody really paid attention to where the lines were on the maps? Flight paths are not a secret, nor are they made up on the fly (pun not intended). These proposed paths have been known for years!

    What has actually happened is COVID, the large reduction in traffic has reduced demand for runway capacity and you got less noise. It’s only raised its head now, because the traffic is increasing and likely requires the use of the new runway on a more consistent basis. To confine everything over the bay requires a certain wind condition, if it doesn’t exist then you can’t operate in that mode safely. Aircraft have wind limitations that must be respected for safety, in addition there is a traffic limitation on what air traffic control can handle safely when the aircraft are operating opposite directions on parallel runways. To keep everyone over the bay means almost pointing aeroplanes at each other, it’s a more complex mode than operating in the usual fashion with landings and departures on a single nominated runway direction (most normally into the prevailing wind).

    Safety again means there is a practical upper limit of aircraft the air traffic controllers can safely handle with the most noise sensitive mode of operations, once the demand exceeds this then same direction operations are required to maintain safety and efficiency. I’m sure the residents, Mr O’Connor or the candidate from the Greens wouldn’t advocate aircraft being delayed and holding to satisfy a noise mandate?

    Not to mention the gall of these people who are newly effected, with zero understanding of where the noise is the rest of the time… over the people who have had it for years!

  • John Mclean


    Just be careful what you wish for. In some parts of the USA, I am told aerodrome operators are collecting names and locations of people who have complained about aircraft noise. When these people go to sell their property, they are required by local authorities to record on sales documents, the fact that the property is subject to aircraft noise. This can effect the sale price of the property. These actions have come to the attention of some aerodrome operators in Australia.

  • Graeme MacKenzie


    I was here first.
    And I not against junking the runway. Is it really needed now anyway?
    How did our State and Federal representative’s allow this to happen? Asleep at the wheel.

  • AntoniA*


    Get ______ Shayne Rodgers!?.
    AND, NOISE POLLUTION is destructive to the natural eco environment; + is also a human & other creatures & critters, health & well-being hazard!?.
    Your mentality & narrative is Soooo 19th Century, get with the programme!
    Keyed from JUST a handful of metres below said DIRECTLY OVERHEAD NOISE POLLUTION FLIGHT PATH!?.

  • Carrie


    This comment by Shane Rodgers is profoundly offensive to everyone in Brisbane, in the city or the suburbs, under the old flight paths or the new.
    Twenty years ago we bought a quiet acreage block 32km from Brisbane airport, and built a home with louvres and doors for natural ventilation and decks for living outdoors. We did not build with concrete, double glazing and air conditioning, or for a city lifestyle. Now my home is directly under 3 flight paths – one for take off, two for landing, some flights as low as 4000ft above the roof. The noise is debilitating, day and night, rattling the windows and doors from 4:30 am to midnight, sometimes only one or two minutes apart.
    We were flat out lied to during the ‘public consultation’: a leaflet in our mailbox showing flightpaths over the bay and along the coast.
    Brisbane should be a livable city, not a concrete jungle.
    You backed this Shane: are you going to pay to fix our homes?



    Apart from flight paths , that can be modofied ,the other quality of life issue will be the increase in road traffic and congestion along freeway and arterial rides leading to the airport.
    For many years I have proposed an airport be built on the islands east of Beenleigh to take pressure of the M1 to Brisbane and Gold Coast airport with its curfew. This would serve the same function as Burbank and Orlando airports in the United States.

  • David Short


    Were is duty of care to those effected by decibels being subjected too.
    By Brisbane council ,BAC, or any other body ?
    If you build a new home under a flight parth ,your requirements are to meet building standards. Double glazing, two layers of fire check to ceilings @so it goes on.
    Are Brisbane airport corporation paying for those under flight paths ?
    The law is the next move, get together and select a firm.
    Stand up for yourselves !

  • I agree but let’s not push this noise on to Brisbane’s bayside suburbs. I would think this would meet with protest. Over the bay , but a long way off shore. Thanks for the option to reply. Regards.david.

  • Grace


    The new flights paths are causing oppressive levels of noise for residents in the highest density residential suburbs in the state and many families are truly suffering. Isn’t the EIS process supposed to identify paths that minimise the human and environmental impact? They could not have designed flight paths to impact more people if they tried. To those who say we should move, imagine if we all did? Should we all pull our children out of the 67 schools that are affected too? And find new jobs close to our new homes, or commute long distances? New doctors? New sports teams? New aged care facilities for our elderly parents we have nearby? And to suggest that this problem is confined to those living near airports shows a total lack of knowledge of the situation that has unfolded in Brisbane. Residents in Brookfield and Samford are subjected to 70db and they are 35km away from the airport. We were misled. We were sold on the concept that flights would be over the bay, and when they were over the city they would be at 10,000 ft and barely able to be heard. The reality is devastatingly different, and not sustainable. I’m 100% behind the protestors. The airport can absolutely find ways to keep co-exist with its host city and reduce the noise burden. They just don’t want to.

  • Di


    Brisbane airport corporation have deceived the people of Brisbane. They told us the new runway would hardly make a difference to noise levels as most flights would go over the bay. The reality has been a disaster for those living under the badly designed flight paths. My previously quiet street that I’ve lived in for 21 years is now bombarded with dozens of very loud landings and take offs every day. BAC are doing nothing to mitigate the noise even though they could. They have lost their social licence to operate. We need a new EIS, a curfew like the people of Sydney enjoy and new, sensible flight path designs.

  • Paul Hollands


    I have lived in regents park in Logan for 15 years, more than 30klm from the airport, for most of that period we have been subjected to very little aircraft noise with the exception the occasional light aircraft from Archerfield.
    Since the opening of the 2nd runway at Brisbane airport we have been bombarded by a continuous procession of low flying commercial jet aircraft passing directly overhead, noise levels can be overwhelming at times.
    How a corporation like BAC be allowed to ride roughshod over the rights of residents of Logan and Brisbane in the name of profit is totally beyond me, we need more government control over the aviation industry and how they are allowed to operate.

    • Sam


      I second this living in Boronia Heights in Logan for 25yrs. Previously, planes were tiny specs in the sky now they fly so low I can see every detail on them. They wake me up at night, they drown out the tv (even a loud movie) and in the evening they come over one after the other every couple of minutes. Don’t tell us to get over it because “we chose to live in the city” – we don’t live in the city. I now have all the noise pollution of being in the city AND the painful commute and lack of services of living in an outer suburb. I also don’t have a spare 30k for double glazing.
      Oh and those shiny world cities that we should be grateful to be like? – they have flight curfews. So who’s backwards now?

  • west max


    The residents of Logan city are very affected also since the 2nd runway was opened.
    I live in Underwood, 26km from Brisbane Airport. The noise coming from different airplanes passing overhead is overwhelming. It is like in the Airshow, they are coming from different directions.

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