A community alliance campaigning against noise generated from Brisbane’s new runway claims 50,000 children’s “cognition” is being damaged by new flight paths.
The Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance (BFPCA) said it has “devastating data” that shows more than 50 schools across the Queensland capital are being subjected to “excessive noise pollution”.
Last week, it said just 0.1 per cent of aircraft taking off from the new runway flew over the city’s inner suburbs at night, with most now directed to fly over the bay.
However, BFPCA has overlaid flight path routes over maps of the city to deduce that 50 schools are now affected by noise – and cited evidence from esteemed science journal The Lancet that noise hurts children’s cognition and health.
It also argued evidence from International Civil Aviation Organization proves aircraft noise harms children’s reading and memory as well as academic test scores.
BFPCA chair David Diamond said: “It’s much worse than what we thought. We knew BAC’s estimate of nine schools affected was nowhere near the actual number of schools underneath flight paths.
“And this only scratches the surface, as we have been very conservative in our estimates, and we haven’t yet included other vulnerable groups such as people in aged care, retirement villages, and hospitals.
“As the airport reaches its pre-COVID capacity, there will be a doubling of the frequency of overflights.
“Now with the additional capacity from the second runway, BAC targets demand from both passengers and cargo for 110 flights an hour, so there will be no respite for teachers or students.”
Brisbane said in response it never mislead the community when it released an “Environmental Impact Statement” approved by the federal government in 2007, and never stated only nine schools would be under the flight path.
“BAC welcomes the Post Implementation Review (PIR) that will be conducted by Airservices Australia,” it said.
The news comes in response to growing community anger over apparently excessive noise over the inner-city Brisbane suburbs closest to the airport.
Last month, residents of Brisbane’s inner suburbs protested outside Brisbane Airport Corporation’s head office over “constant” noise pollution due to the new flight paths, which they argued is a direct result of the airport’s newly opened parallel runway.
Amid their attempt to speak with BAC staff, protestors were ultimately locked out of the BAC building, which only brought more buzz to the situation.
The airport’s new $1.1 billion runway, which runs parallel to its existing runway, opened in May 2020.
Since the secondary runway’s opening, the number of aircraft utilising either runway each month has increased by 195 per cent, from 4,130 aircraft movements in May 2020 to over 12,200 in June 2021.
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, thus reducing current aircraft noise pollution, particularly at night.
Brisbane has released data suggesting that 70 per cent of all night-time flight operations, which occur between 10pm and 6am, were conducted over Moreton Bay, as opposed to the suburbs closest to the airport, in the other direction.
The remaining 29.9 per cent of night flights flew over the suburbs and utilised Brisbane’s existing legacy runway.
In addition to the recent statistics, BAC announced last week that it would be publishing monthly reports detailing exactly how many flights take off and land over the bay, rather than the city and suburbs, to be published across its social media channels “for easy access by the community”.
BAC executive general manager communications and public affairs, Rachel Crowley, said that publicly releasing monthly reports into current air traffic movements over the bay versus over the city recognised the community interested in the airport’s operations.
“Whilst the social and economic benefits of Brisbane Airport’s operations are enjoyed right across Brisbane and Queensland, we acknowledge the burdens of aircraft noise are carried locally,” she said.
“The new parallel runway system at Brisbane Airport was designed to allow for greater distribution of aircraft movements and increased use of over-the-bay operations compared to the old system, and in line with our commitment to the community, currently 70 per cent of operations between the hours of 10pm and 6am are over the bay.
“We hope this additional monthly runway operations snapshot will give people a better understanding of how the airport operates.”