Helicopter noise trials were carried out at the proposed helicopter development site in Mission Beach during the middle of the day on Wed 28th October as per the Court order issued on September 3rd.
Kestrel Aviation boss Ray Cronin who owns Mission Helicopters, piloted the two aircraft used in the trials; a Bell 206 Long Ranger and the smaller Robinson which is currently used for passenger transfers to and from Bedarra Island.
Bell 206 Long Ranger Robinson - Bedarra passenger transfer helicopter
Representatives from both sides of the court appeal against the helicopter development approval were present to observe the trials including the CCRC Planner Byron Jones who wrote the Planning Department reports during the development assessment process.
C4 president Peter Rowles and committee member Ian Shankley were at the front of 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road with the independent acoustic expert while vice president and committee members Helen and Jeff Larson observed from the mouth of Wongaling (Porters) Creek under the flight path.
Acoustic recording devises were placed strategically at either end of the fenced development area as well as at houses within the impact zone.
It was made clear the noise trials were only concerned with impact on residents so it was disappointing the community was not informed of the trial date and time. Noise levels from any model helicopter on a designated flight path are known or can be calculated, so it could have added weight to a fair assessment to give opportunity for feedback from residents within the noise impact zone. The trials were not concerned with any noise impacts on the bike path or the beach or the environment.
We were told the appeal process has made the whole council approval null and void. "That a lot has changed since then. Such as the aircraft now being proposed for the development is the Bell Long Ranger and the Robinson". With little or no information being shared with the community we must trust that any 'negotiations' or 'agreements' during the appeal proceedings are from a firm position of 'No Helicopters Here'.
Takeoff of Bell Long Ranger flight number 4
We were alerted to the trials by a Conch Street resident during the third of four Bell 206 Long Ranger flights from the development site. The video above is of the last flight takeoff. Residents in Conch Street, Oasis and residential subdivision south of Marcs Park reported intrusive noise during the trials. A recording taken by a resident at Shelly Court registered 65.9 db at 11.56am and 87.3db at 11.58 during the Bell 206 flight. As another Mission Beach resident observed..." that is loud band level".
The graphic shows the locations of the above feedback to the north of the flight path and assumes the helicopters were using the path provided to the CCRC as mentioned in approval Condition no 7.
A facebook user commented "Helicopters are loud. Full stop. Everybody knows this, especially when taking off and landing, there should be no landing pads or flight paths any where near residency or nature sanctuary".
Community members have questioned why the trials were carried out during the hottest time of the day. While sound moves faster in warm air than colder air, the wave bends away from the warm air and back toward the ground. That's why sound is able to travel farther in cooler weather. Was this taken into account by both parties within the ''agreed approach' for the trials? Mr Cronin would be well aware of the nuances of helicopter sound.
The public might be under the false understanding the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has some control over noise levels or impacts on people or the environment. CASA has no remit in land development application approvals and/or the process of aircraft permissions in using the facilities. CASA's responsibility under civil aviation legislation is to oversee aviation safety.
CASA does not regulate aircraft noise and/or environment impacts. It is usually a matter managed within the land development application with impact statements. The council could, or better, should have made this a requirement of the Development Application (DA) but dodged it by claiming they only have no responsibility once a helicopter is in the air. While CASA cannot enforce fly friendly agreements they encourage consideration by council authorities and with the helipad operator and local residents. No such agreement was considered as part of the helicopter development assessment process.
Further, CASA does not have any jurisdiction over where helicopters can fly . The pilot must determine the safest route in landing and take-off, depending on conditions at the time. The helipad/heliport operator generally specifies operating procedures for aircraft using the landing site, and this will include flight paths relevant to safe routes and can be in consideration of impacts of aircraft with sensitive areas, such as national park and residential areas. This means a specific flight path is not enforceable which leaves in question how the full potential noise impact can be accurately gauged.
Increased helicopter activity at Mission Beach
Meanwhile, since Mission Helicopters has been promoting scenic tours operating from Tully aerodrome, residents from South Mission Beach to Brooks Beach are reporting an increase in helicopter activity around the region. Island Reef Helicopters has been observed flying noisily along the beach close to the water disturbing Red-tailed black cockatoos.
Residents at Brooks Beach report helicopter movements regularly, using no particular flight path; sometimes over land, sometimes directly overhead and other times following the coastline over the sea. The helicopter used in the noise trial video (above) was identified flying "quite low' directly over houses along Brooks Beach on the day of the trial.
It seems there isn't a day without helicopter activity at Mission Beach. Under any circumstances helicopters are intrusive and destroy the normally quiet peaceful ambience Mission Beach is known for.
Helicopter flying over Bingil Bay
During the court appeal process, there is no room for compromise from the position of NO HELIPORT at 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road An agreement to allow any helicopter business to operate from the site is simply the first 'foot in the door' to future applications for variations and increased use.
The appeal will be reviewed on 3 December 2021.
As per the September 3 court order, Mission Helicopters will be carrying out a set of helicopter movements to and from 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road this week as part of a noise level trial. The date and times of the trial depend on the availability of the monitoring company and are unknown at the time of this publication.
C4 advised that noise levels will be recorded of the aircraft described in Mission Helicopter's Development Application (DA) i e the large medium lift helicopters Sikorsky S-76, Bell 412, and Bell 206L3 (below) .
The process for the trial has been determined by helicopter and noise experts as agreed by both parties and will be monitored by two independent noise-recording experts.
The data from the recordings will then be analysed for use by the expert witnesses in the upcoming Planning and Environment Court case.
Recordings will be taken during take off, landing and to and from the proposed development site following the approved flight path; although there has always been some confusion over which is the correct flight path given condition 7 of the CCRC approval document differs significantly from the Approach/Departure Waypoint Flight Plan provided by Mission Helicopters.
The CCRC Planners report presented at the CCRC General meeting 21 Jan 2021 (Page 256) stated 3 helicopters could be in use at any one time. None of the approval conditions limit the number of helicopters. Fully representative trials would need to take this into account.
Community people (sic) have been asked to cooperate with the trial process so the best information can be gathered for the legal proceedings. In the public interest, C4 has requested people to monitor noise levels from their homes so they can determine what the likely effects of proposed helicopter movements might have on them.
Given the impact would also be felt by those enjoying the beach or using the bike path, these are other places the community could gain an insight into the selected activities of the trial. The map, above right, shows the supposed impact zone of both flight path scenarios.
It is stressed that noises other than those of the helicopters can negate the results of the tests so those interested in being present while the trials are being carried out are asked to please observe quietly.
The community could rightfully ask why the burden of proof is on the objectors to demonstrate noise nuisance?
Why wasn't Mission Helicopters required to lodge a report with the DA to show that the noise he intended making was below acceptable limits?
We will keep you informed as soon as we have any further information on the trial date.
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.
Latest on court appeal orders
On 3rd Dec 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.
On the 3rd September an Order (above) was made by his Honour Judge Morzone QC.
The appeal will be reviewed on 3 December 2021
On the 6th August the court ordered MH to respond to C4 correspondence by August 15th.
Next appeal review is listed for 3rd September.
All relevant COURT APPEAL
SUPREME AND DISTRICT COURTS CAIRNS
Grounds C4 has filed to appeal the Heliport approval decision
Grounds on which Mission Helicopters, as co respondent , will defend the appeal .