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Protesters march to demand caps and curfews at Brisbane Airport

written by Jake Nelson | June 13, 2023

Brisbane locals are demanding caps and curfews at the airport to limit aircraft noise. (Image: Belinda Turner)

Hundreds of protesters marched to Brisbane Airport over the long weekend to demand flight caps and curfews to limit aircraft noise.

The Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance (BFPCA) has also lodged a petition with the Queensland Parliament for an inquiry into the impact of flight noise, pointing to an admission by Airservices Australia in Senate Estimates that more than 226 suburbs across Greater Brisbane are affected by noise pollution from flight paths.

Supporters of the group rallied on Saturday to demand a 10pm-6am curfew at Brisbane Airport, as well as a cap on the total number of flights, similar to the arrangements at Sydney Airport. While organisers claimed more than 1000 people attended the protest, Brisbane Airport has said the numbers were closer to 300-350.

The protest was the latest in the long-running dispute, which began when the airport opened its new parallel runway in July 2020. The new runway allowed more flight paths to open up, but affected nearby communities in the process.

BFPCA chairperson, Professor Marcus Foth, said Federal Transport Minister Catherine King had “forced” the protest by declining to meet with the organisation.


“We wrote to Ms King in 2022 asking for a meeting, which she rejected in February 2023, and then directly told the community they must protest at her Press Club appearance in March – so here we are,” he said.

“Our community is not unreasonable. We understand that aviation is key to the economic future of Brisbane, Queensland and Australia. However, we also know some of the world’s busiest airports remain lucrative with curfews and flight caps in place – principally our southern neighbours in Sydney.”

In a statement, Minister King said that a Greens-backed bill to limit aircraft movements around Brisbane would be “economic vandalism” to Queensland. BFPCA says it is a non-partisan community group, but welcomes the Greens’ support.

“Some politicians have decided to weaponise aircraft noise and use it as a political tool to campaign on, and made promises they cannot keep,” said Minister King.

“This includes calling for extreme demand management controls including a curfew and a cap of 45 movements per hour. For comparison, Sydney is at 80.

“Such constraints would be the most severe in Australia and among the harshest in the world.”

Stephen Beckett, head of public affairs at Brisbane Airport Corporation, said that Airservices Australia is gathering feedback on options including increased flights over Moreton Bay and away from suburbs.

“Brisbane Airport Corporation appreciates the genuine concerns of residents living near the airport or under a flight path. That’s why we are supporting the Australian Government authority, Airservices Australia, which designs flight paths and manages Air Traffic Control, to explore ways to minimise noise impacts where possible and is safe to do so,” he told Australian Aviation.

“What we know, is that caps and a curfew at BNE will not give residents the relief they’re hoping for. In fact, a Productivity Commission report into caps and a curfew at Sydney Airport found these measures created more intense noise impacts and increased emissions.

“[Proposed restrictions] would have a profound social and economic impact on Queensland with 30,000 jobs and $2.8 billion stripped from the State’s economy by 2031/32. If flight caps were imposed, 3,100 flights per year would be axed, mostly to regional Queensland.”

Professor Foth told Australian Aviation that the “Chicken Little act” about the impact of curfews and caps on Queensland’s economy is “grossly exaggerated”.

“Should the Greens Bill or any other proposal put to parliament not pass, the community will continue to fight for a cap and a curfew. They remain the only path to delivering the necessary improvements to aircraft noise exposure to communities right across Brisbane,” he said.

“We know from our technical advisors that other measures being proposed obviously only tinker at the edges of the problem – without a curfew and a flight cap, BAC, Airservices Australia and the Albanese Government will continue to serve up thousands and thousands of Brisbanites’ health and well-being in exchange for Brisbane Airport profits.

“It is a disgrace that communities in Brisbane are treated with contempt for asking for the same things our neighbours in Sydney enjoy. Sydney is the busiest and wealthiest airport in the country, and it remains so with a cap and a curfew.”

The federal government in March established the Brisbane Airport Community Airspace Advisory Board to hear community concerns on noise issues, which have been a flashpoint for years.

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