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Ombudsman criticises Airservices over Brisbane Airport noise

written by Adam Thorn | October 13, 2021
Brisbane runway first flight water cannon (BNE)
Brisbane’s new runway opened on 11 July with a water cannon salute to the first flight by a Virgin 737-8FE (BNE).

The nation’s Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) has ruled that Airservices Australia did not provide “full and complete information” to Brisbane communities about the potential noise generated by its airport’s new runway.

However, ANO’s report rejected complaints that the assurances given contained factually incorrect information, and also ruled Airservices did comply with environmental and biodiversity regulations.

Residents of Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs, including New Farm, Bulimba, Teneriffe, Hamilton and Hawthorn, have spent months lobbying and protesting against what they claim is excessive aircraft noise pollution over their homes following the introduction of Brisbane’s second parallel runway last year.

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The ombudsman launched its review after being inundated with 264 complaints regarding the number of low-flying aircraft being directed over a number of inner-city suburbs.

It said the complainants’ accounts that they were misled were “strikingly consistent” and “the shock they express at the actual impact appears genuine”.

The final report, which you can read here, concluded Airservices Australia “failed to engage effectively with the communities potentially affected by the new flight paths” which was “contrary to best practice for community engagement”.

“Airservices did not provide full and complete information regarding aircraft noise to potentially affected communities,” the ombudsman said.

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Complaints included residents arguing they had suffered with stress, anxiety and interrupted sleep.

The ombudsman did significantly back Airservices’ assessment of the environmental impact of flight paths which it said were “largely compliant with its internal policies” and added there was insufficient evidence to find that it did not comply with requirements of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

It also rejected claims the assurances given to locals were factually incorrect.

Its final recommendations urged for a post-implementation review to include a community engagement process that provides “reasonable opportunities for community contributions and the consideration of community suggested alternatives to the current flight paths”.

Airservices said in response it had been working over the last two years to implement changes to its community engagement during flight path design.

“We are committed to ensuring that our engagement with communities who may be affected by proposed changes to flight paths and airspace is clear, proactive, inclusive, accessible, responsive and transparent,” the organisation said.

“We will continue to evolve and enhance our approach to community engagement and incorporate lessons learnt from each application.”

Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance spokesman David Diamond called the report “frank and fearless”.

“We’ll be sure to take these findings and demand Airservices revisit its designs and does some genuine soul searching,” said Diamond.

Airservices itself is completing a review into whether or not Brisbane Airport’s new flight paths have increased noise pollution, following the opening of the airport’s new parallel runway.

Australian Aviation has previously reported how campaigners are insisting the flight paths need to be reworked from scratch. Brisbane Airport’s new runway opened one year ago but the business has consistently denied new flight paths have made the noise worse and argued it has been actively engaging with the community.

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Ombudsman criticises Airservices over Brisbane Airport noise Comment

  • william

    says:

    unfortunately, the air ombudsman office is an extension of airservices australia, that is he is in the employ of airservices, which in a sense makes a mockery of it being seemingly an independent appraisal … at the very least airservices australia have been duplicitous in their so-called liaisons with the those in the community whose lives are being destroyed by the frequency and level of aircraft noise

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