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Brisbane homeowners could face 70 decibels of flight noise

written by Hannah Dowling | January 18, 2022

Virgin Australia 737-8FE(WL) Brisbane Airport VH-YIB
‘Trinity Beach’ arriving into Brisbane Airport as ‘VA957’ in some windy and overcast conditions. (Emil Cooper)

New homes built in an upcoming Brisbane inner-city development could experience flight noise levels of up to 70 decibels, Brisbane Airport has warned.

The airport corporation has also pleaded with the Brisbane City Council to ensure future homeowners are aware of the noise levels and restrict them from making aircraft noise complaints.

Currently, there are plans to build up to 855 homes in the $63 million, 20-hectare Bulimba Barracks site – a former US Army base from WWII – all of which will fall under Brisbane Airport’s new flight paths.

Ahead of the proposed redevelopment of the site by Shayher Group, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) has submitted a response to Brisbane City Council, urging the council to ensure residents are aware of the noise pollution in the area.

The airport said it has “significant concerns”, given that a third of the proposed development falls into the airport’s Australian Noise Exposure Forecast contours – meaning they are the most exposed to aircraft noise, and homes need to be built with additional noise insulation.

According to a spokesperson for BAC, “Noise modelling for Brisbane Airport indicates the whole Bulimba Barracks site falls within the 60 decibel (dB) noise contour, meaning most aircraft that overfly the area will generate noise above 60dB, and in some parts of the site, aircraft noise will be above 70dB.”

BAC added in its submission to the council that “inappropriate development” near the airport could “result in unnecessary negative impacts on community amenity and constraints on airport operations”.

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It comes after existing residents of Bulimba, as well as numerous inner-city suburbs including New Farm, Teneriffe and Hawthorn, have spent months lobbying and protesting against excessive aircraft noise pollution over their homes following the introduction of Brisbane’s second parallel runway.

The increasingly-frustrated residents claim Brisbane Airport’s new flight paths have not met the expectations set in consultation with the community prior to the runway’s approval.

Brisbane City Council city planning committee chair Adam Allan said that aircraft noise will be taken into consideration as the council assesses the proposed development, however added that “it is not possible to restrict future noise complaints”, as the airport has requested.

While there is no regulation specifying maximum flight noise levels over residential suburbs, a plane flying overhead at 70 decibels would interrupt a conversation inside a home, according to Airservices Australia.

A spokesperson for BAC noted the airport’s interest in high-density developments near the airport, given the airport currently operates without an imposed curfew, given that excessive community complaints could impact this.

“BAC considers it imperative that future owners are made aware of current and future aircraft operations at Brisbane Airport, and the implications of these operations,” the spokesperson said.

“BAC is seeking that Brisbane City Council considers the registration of a covenant on any new title within the development that protects the future operations of the airport from noise complaints in relation to this specific site.”

Comments (7)

  • Brian Beban

    says:

    It seems fair to me to have a covenant imposed for no future noise complaints when a clear and relevant warning is given to all purchasers and explained by the conveyors/solicitors at the time of contract. To buy in an exposed area with full knowledge of the potential noise levels and then complain about it later, regardless of the experience being worse than imagined at time of purchase, is unreasonable after being warned and advised of the covenant.

  • Fred

    says:

    Old news.. I used to live in Nathan and measure 80 DB at 06:00 one morning in the 1990’s with a lab calibrated sound meter as aircraft flew over.

    Brisbane airport has been a noise disaster for Brisbane residents ever since it opened in the late 1980’s

    Building the parallel runway is just funneling yet more air traffic over populated areas and strangely enough it is causing even more nose issue.

    It is only a matter of time before Brisbane gets a curfew..

  • Graeme

    says:

    Well acquainted with Bulimba Barracks, from ‘70’s through to ‘90’s inclusive.

    When jets were coming into land, talk had to be halted, if either outside or inside.
    Inside had the ‘added’ effect of glassware, & china rattling in the Mess.

    So don’t know how well these houses’ are going to sell.

    People should do ‘due diligence’ beforehand.

  • Doug

    says:

    So why is the development being approved? Councils have a responsibility to take in to account all environmental issues.

  • Geoff

    says:

    It always amazes me that residents on the lower end of the aircraft approach path complain about the noise levels of some aircraft as they fly overhead. The actual so called interruption to your conversations may be 20-30 seconds. Yet, these same people are quite happy to use their mower and whipper snipper for a few hours continuously, right next to neighbours; which is far more intrusive.
    We have lived in Cannon Hill, right under the aircraft approach path for some 16 years when there was only one runway. The aircraft are approx. 1000ft above us. When we purchased the house, we knew the aircraft used this path for their approach/departure, and accepted it for the convenience of living here.
    Sure, some people find with the new runway, their house is now under an approach/departure path. Well, that is life.

    As for the intended new residents of the yet to be built Bulimba Barracks site, the developer should be made to have an explanation clause placed in the purchase contract for intended purchasers that aircraft will possibly fly over their house, and the noise generated could be in excess of 70 decibels. Maybe there could be a recommendation to get better sound proofed windows, walls and roofing…just like what should happen when you built near a free way.

    Maybe “a” solution would be to have a curfew between 2300 and 0600 for pax aircraft of certain sizes, that generate a certain noise level. Though this may lead the airport to be under utilised, and cause air fares to rise. Decisions decisions..

  • Ulick Gage

    says:

    The following information is from a long time recreational shooter: “A very low-powered round like a subsonic .22 LR fired through a long barreled rifle with a suppressor can be reduced down to as low as approximately 115 dB… Since hearing damage occurs starting at merely 85 dB, even suppressed subsonic low-powered rounds will cause permanent hearing damage with long term exposure.”
    What we’re talking about here is long term aircraft noise exposure of only 5 dB below the momentary sound of a silenced rifle shot. Hearing damage is bound to take place unless hearing muffs are worn or aircraft noise insulation is provided. That’s indoors. But what if you want to go outside?
    My experience of living for 25 years under the flightpath of the main runway to Sydney Airport is that it was only during the current pandemic that noise levels became acceptable. And this was with the benefit of an aircraft noise insulation program, which undeniably helped, and a curfew from 2300 to 0600 hrs.
    A worse problem was roof damage caused by low flying aircraft vortices. This was dealt with quickly and efficiently by Airservices Australia, if you knew the ropes. Of course, potential home owners were warned about the noise levels. But what if you owned before the noise levels became prohibitive?
    The only long-term solution in my opinion is quieter aircraft and airports further out from city centres, connected by high-speed surface links.

  • Gordon Mackinlay

    says:

    The Howard Liberal/Nationals Government handed Bulimba Barracks, and the quays and mooring points over gratis. The intention that its 45.5 acres were to be used as a recreational park or a park and community sports area (especially since Central Brisbane does not have a multi-purpose athletics facility. But. state/city governments do have a tendency to re-zone.

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