In an interview with rural reporter Charlie McKillop on ABC Far North radio this morning, Mr Cronin said "The funny part about this application is it is solely about erection of buildings on the site, nothing to do with helicopters".
Why then, was the development application a Material Change of Use to include air services? Why did the council condition the number of helicopters on the site, the hours of operation and the flight path if the application had nothing to do with helicopters? The community certainly doesn't think there is anything funny about this application.
Mr Cronin also said the community had their chance to have a say during the comment period. The community spoke with a strong voice when a high number of submissions were lodged against the DA. Community concerns were not only ignored but the councillors were ordered by the then CEO not to talk to their own constituents, the very people who voted them to be their representatives. One councillor claimed he could not discuss the application claiming conflict of interest. A culture of separation emerged between council representatives and the public with flippant behaviour bordering on contempt by some councillors.
We are being told by Mr Cronin that it's too late to object to his proposal since the gate's closed and the horse has bolted. He emphasises he has legal approval. There is a difference between legal and proper. Governments on all levels have failed the Mission Beach community forcing them into a costly court battle, perhaps ill equipped to take on legally enforceable negotiations with a wealthy developer who has made it clear he is not interested in doing anything to address their concerns unless he is forced to.
In defending his position, Mr Cronin added, "Quite frankly if I hadn’t done it someone else would have. There is already helicopter activity right in town, we are taking a responsible approach by placing it between the towns". Based on Mr Cronin's argument we might as well all start importing fentanyl because if we don't, someone else will.
Referring to the compromise reached between C4 and himself during the court appeal mediation, Mr Cronin claimed "We are taking a far more responsible approach to noise mitigation than other people are." In the absence of regulations covering helicopter activity in Queensland, C4 and Mr Cronin agreed to use the noise levels in Victorian regulation as a benchmark in the trials carried out at Mission Beach.
Aircraft noise is gauged against ambient noise of an area. We have not been able to establish exactly what the regulations are for Victoria or where in Victoria the comparison is being made but it would be safe to say the environment would be vastly different than the high biodiversity of the Mission Beach environs.
C4 has entered into a legally binding agreement determining 'acceptable' noise levels with an expert who would be fully aware of how much noise a helicopter makes. The agreement was made without any consultation with residents during the negotiations.
Charlie McKillop concluded the process must have been tortuous for Mr Cronin. Does that mean Mr Cronin is a victim instead of a wealthy businessman who has got his own way, against the public interest? It may be tortuous for Mr Cronin but it continues to be torturous for the community and their unknown future.
Mr Cronin is the sole beneficiary of a proposal that has already caused social division and continues to cause ongoing anxiety and stress within our community. An industrial aerodrome at 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road will have an irreversible impact on our community’s sense of place and wellbeing.
Mission Beach community continues to voice their concerns
Reliant on legal structures to ignore legitimate needs of the local community
During his presentation, Mr Cronin claimed his business will help the community but his actions show his interests lie in what is allowed by law, not the legitimate needs of the local community.
Mr Cronin made it clear the court had approved his development adding there was now no further legal avenue of appeal .
"It might be legal but that doesn't mean it is moral, ethical or acceptable to the residents of Mission Beach who have an expectation they can live in peace and quiet and not be disturbed by noisy intrusive helicopter activity". said Ms Gallie. "Legal processes are easily available to a wealthy developer to intimidate the local community into putting up with the unacceptable"
"Wooing the public with a promise of local benefits through tourism transfers from Cairns and Townsville to Dunk Island and Bedarra and a feel good focus on emergency services belies the true impact Mission Helicopters aerodrome will have on our small community".
Mission Helicopers is not a boutique business servicing our nature sensitive tourist town. said Ms Gallie. " In Mr Cronins 'DNA' as he puts it, is the ability to establish Kestrel Aviation, one of Australia's largest fleets of specialist multi-role helicopters in Australia.
This trojan horse will be bringing all the helicopter activities in the following list, with work for;
Given this extensive list of helicopter activites made legal through the court order, it is difficult to understand what was meant in C4's media release following their withdrawal from the appeal when President Peter Rowles said: “We were not able to stop the helicopter base altogether but we were able to secure some more favourable conditions governing its operation".
No law or regulation exists to limit aviation activity
The Air Services Noise and complaints information service know how disturbing helicopter activity is but concede that no law or regulations exists to limit any type of aviation activity. This fact was established during the appeal negotiations between C4 and Mission Helicopters and highlighted in Mr Cronins presentation.
The negotiations relied on the willingness of each party to reach an agreement. The community expectation was any agreement would only be acceptable if it addressed their well voiced concerns. Failing a suitable mediation outcome, it was believed the appeal would continue to a court hearing.
The outcome was not what the community was looking for. The appeal against the Council’s approval was withdrawn in favour of a negotiated agreement. The approval and conditions were based on an agreed noise level and other compromises during the mediation.
How much noise do Robinson 444 and Bell Long Ranger helicopters make? "Most certainly Mr Cronin knows" said Ms Gallie. "Who was responsible for establishing the noise level the trials were assessed against"? "Who decided the noise level generated from either of the two medium size helicopters used in the trials and now allowed to operate from 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road was acceptable"? "Why was Mr Cronin allowed to pilot the helicopters during the trials"?
"Who was responsible for the decision that 120 helicopter take offs and landings anytime of any day in the heart of Mission Beach was acceptable"?
These questions go unanswered as the community was not involved or consulted during the negotiations nor did the conditions agreed to and ordered by the court address the community concerns. The matter was not taken to court.
One of the court ordered conditions is the flight path. Flight paths cannot be enforced as they are determined by the pilot and dependant on weather conditions at the time. Likewise, it is left to the heliport operator to consider any impacts on sensitive areas such as national park and residential areas. Mr Cronin has not acknowledged or made any attempt to address these community concerns.
Local Council Assessment process fails community
Aircraft noise and/or environment impacts are usually managed within the development application with impact statements. The local council failed to consider the impacts of the development on the residents, and important wildlife and environment at Mission Beach.
CASA encourages fly friendly agreements to be considered by council and with the helipad operator and local residents during the assessment process. There has been no mention of a fly friendly agreement either during the initial development approval or during the appeal.
An industrial business with Mission Helicopters legal capability located in the heart of Mission Beach villages at 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road will undermine community sense of place and the foundations of a tourism economy built on the points of difference at Mission Beach.
The local planning scheme, the development assessment process, and any moral obligation Mr Cronin may have, has completely failed the Mission Beach community and the expectation their peaceful lifestyle, environment and important wildlife is protected.
Buy Back for 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road
Mr Cronin is aware of the social division and ongoing anxiety and stress his proposal has caused to members of the community.
The petition asking Mr Cronin to please fly elsewhere now has 314 signatures. The petition comments explain the community concerns.
If Mr Cronin has a commitment to the community as he claims, why did he avoid questions at the MBCA meeting and why has he not responded to our open letter?
2224 Tully Mission Beach Rd is a strategic rehabilitation area most suited to a property buy back to establish a robust cassowary corridor and allowing opportunity for the rural land to be developed appropriately, for example, a high value niche cropping/ farm tourism venture.
Mission Beach Cassowaries
No Helicopters Here campaign
10 Aug 2022
Residents call for developer to rethink location of proposed helicopter aerodrome
An Open letter, to be published in the local Cassowary Coast newspaper, calls on Director of Mission Helicopters Ray Cronin to locate his planned obtrusive helicopter aerodrome business where it cannot disrupt residential areas and wildlife.
“The present Council-approved site lies between two villages and immediately adjacent to a wilderness reserve” Ms Gallie said “residents and visitors alike are attracted to the very special low-key village atmosphere and nature amenity of Mission Beach – into which this helicopter aerodrome approval has brought nothing but social division, anxiety and stress”.
“The community has no objection to a helicopter aerodrome being located near Mission Beach, but it must be situated where its operations cannot disrupt residential areas and cassowary habitat” said Ms Gallie “this proposed three-storey industrial hanger complex will introduce a visually jarring and peace-shattering interruption right on the scenic route into town
THE COURT CASE THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN
With the support of the Mission Beach community, which made many submissions against the Mission Helicopters aerodrome proposal, community group C4 (Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation) started a legal appeal against the Council’s approval; but then withdrew from the case in favour of a negotiated agreement allowing Mission Helicopters to conduct 120 helicopter movements daily, from early morning to late afternoon, 7 days a week.
President of local conservation group Mission Beach Cassowaries, Ms Gallie said “this is not the outcome the community wanted. Noise trials conducted during C4’s negotiations with Mission Helicopters highlighted just how disruptive and intrusive this helicopter aerodrome would be if it goes ahead”.
UNHAPPY LOCAL RESIDENTS SPEAK UP
“Local residents are speaking up” Ms Gallie said. “They fear loss of their community’s sense of identity, which depends on the low-key village atmosphere. Decades of consistent feedback from the community have highlighted the special amenity, character and natural environment of Mission Beach”.
New arrivals Robyn and Tony Pembroke moved to Mission Beach from ‘overdeveloped’ Byron Bay, believing they were buying into a peaceful neighbourhood. They had not been advised of the helicopter plans. “It’s unfair to expect residents to accept the noise of a helicopter operation right in the middle of town” said Robyn. “Helicopter noise is extremely loud, unpleasant and intrusive and needs to be well away from houses, especially at a place like Mission Beach”.
Another new resident, who did not wish to be named, had bought a house lot next to the rainforest. “I was devastated” she said. “we bought next to the reserve thinking it would be a quiet nature block – we had no idea we’d be next to a helicopter aerodrome! We saved up for this block- it was to be our first home. Now we don’t know what to do. It’s right under the flight path”.
From: Mission Beach ‘No Helicopters Here’ campaign supporters
To: Mission Helicopters
Dear Mr Cronin,
We refer to your business Mission Helicopters Air Services currently proposed and approved for 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road. We ask you to change its location to one where it cannot disrupt and disturb Mission Beach residents and wildlife.
Helicopter noise is extremely loud, unpleasant and intrusive. The recent increase in helicopters flying over Mission Beach and along the shoreline has shown just how disruptive and upsetting the noise can be to residents and shorebirds.
Local residents who value the natural context of Mission Beach and its village amenity know that a helicopter service in the heart of our villages can only have an unacceptable impact on the overall amenity of Mission Beach.
Your proposed helicopter aerodrome has already caused social division and continues to cause ongoing anxiety and stress within our community.
The No Helicopters Here campaign supporters respectfully appeal to you, Mr Cronin:
We ask you to locate your business to a place where it cannot disturb and disrupt Mission Beach residents, our peaceful residential lifestyle, and our sensitive and important wildlife.
Mission Beach ‘No Helicopters Here’ campaign supporters
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Sign the petition
This website is managed by Mission Beach Cassowaries inc to share information about the No Helicopters Here campaign against the approval of A HELICOPTER BASE on 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road.
Court appeal chronology
28th February 2022.
C4 entered into a compromise settlement with Mission Helicopters. The appeal did not proceed to a court hearing.
3rd December 2021
The appeal was reviewed. Judge Morzone ordered (above) the appellant (C4) to provide a list of matters they wish to be considered for inclusion in the proposed conditions attached to any approval of the development application.
3rd September 2021
Order (above) made by his Honour Judge Morzone QC.
Appeal review listed for 3 December 2021
6th August 2021
Court ordered MH to respond to C4 correspondence by August 15th. Appeal review listed for 3rd September.
3rd June 2021
Grounds on which Mission Helicopters, as co respondent , defended the appeal .
5th Mar 2021
C4 filed to appeal the Heliport approval decision