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.