A proposal for a purpose built helicopter facility between Mission and Wongaling Beach has conservationists and community members up in arms.
WIN News Cairns
They're worried its approval could infringe on the Cassowary Coast's namesake, with potentially disastrous consequences for the town's identity and economy, despite the promise of low impact and predicted returns.
Rain failed to dampen protest
14 January, 2021
POURING rain did not deter more than 150 residents from attending a public meeting in Mission Beach on Wednesday to express concerns about a proposed helicopter base in the heart of the ecotour ism town.
People are worried that the proposed aviation facility on the Tully-Mission Beach Road will have a negative impact on property prices, tourism, the World Heritage environment and wildlife, including cassowaries, and the peaceful, laidback lifestyle.
Peter Rowles, president of Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4), which organised the meeting, told the gathering the lack of clarity around the development application by Victorian-based Kestrel Aviation and the contradictions between it and the planning report to Cassowary Coast Regional Council were cause for concern.
“There is still insufficient information for an informed vote on this deferred application when it is presented at next Thursday’s Council meeting,” Mr Rowles said.
Much of the conflicting information concerned whether the base would be a tourism venture using light helicopters to ferry visitors between Cairns and Townsville and the offshore islands or whether, as stated in the planning report, Mission Beach would be a base for heavy-lift helicopters used in firefighting and emergency services.
Calls by C4 to Kestrel Aviation to gain clarity on the development proposal had not been returned.
“Emergency services and medivac operations are already catered for by contracted companies with established bases in Cairns and Townsville,” Mr Rowles said.
“We are not against new business – we encourage economic growth of the Cassowary Coast region – but the proposed location of a noisy helicopter base will have a negative impact upon existing businesses, residents, tourists and wildlife.
“There are aviation facilities available at Tully and Innisfail and either of these sites would be a better option.
“Mission Beach is the centre of tourism on the Cassowary Coast so this development has implications for the whole region.
“We live in one of the few places in the world where two World Heritage areas (Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef) lie side by side and visitors from all over the world are attracted to this region because of its natural beauty and biodiversity.”
Mr Rowles made a point of welcoming local Division Three Councillor Trudy Tschui, who had come to listen to the meeting. He encouraged everyone to read the development application and planning response and to note inconsistencies, contradictions and omissions, and to email councillors with their concerns.
Petitions with around 750 signatures asking the Council to refuse the development application had been presented this week, and representatives of C4 and Mission Beach Cassowaries had made a deputation to the whole Council on Tuesday.
Re: Development application for a Material Change of Use for Air Services (Aviation Facility) on land
described as Lot 3 on RP732964, situated at 2224 Tully-Mission Beach Road, Mission Beach.
Fears a controversial plan for a helipad will disrupt the quiet lifestyle in Mission Beach are growing, but developers promise it will help tourism take off without becoming "Seaworld".
More than 650 people have signed a petition against the proposal, and a second community meeting is being held today just days after another one was attended by 200 people.
Victorian company, Kestrel Aviation, is asking Cassowary Coast council to approve an application to build a base and corporate lounge, between Mission Beach and Wongaling Beach.
The plan is to launch a helicopter service to fly in tourists, taking them onto other luxurious resorts and islands in the state's far north.
Managing Director Ray Cronin says the site is ideal because it allows for aircraft to fly in and out without going over homes, keeping "clear of urban areas".
The service could also help with maritime emergencies if needed, Mr Cronin says.
However, there is widespread public worry about environmental and noise impacts, and not using land to grow the agriculture industry.
Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation President Peter Rowles says the helipad detracts from the "economic, environment and social values from Mission Beach".
"When we look at the application there is a lot of information missing," Mr Rowles says."They are very noisy, they produce a lot of downdraft [wind].
"We have reports of people currently hear helicopters very easily from 1.5km away. Many of these residents live 400 to 800metres away from where this proposal is intended, so they will get a lot of noise."
But according to Kestral Aviation, the site was chosen based on an assessment of the noise footprint, which proved there would be little impact on residents.
Mr Cronin is promising the helicopters - which are "fast, smart and modern" - will be off the coast in less than three minutes.
"Its not going to be a joy ride operation, it's not a Seaworld, we are not going to be going in and out every five minutes, there will be big gaps between movements the footprint will be very small."
Today's public meeting is on at Marcs Park, Mission Beach from 12pm, and follows last week's meeting.
"There has been further developments with the application since then, so it's a chance for the community to keep up to date," says Mr Rowles.
The proposal is set to be tabled at the next council meeting in Tully, on January 21.
Following from Kestrel Aviation website
Did you know that Kestrel Aviation, Australia's leading provider of specialist aviation services, also operates Mission Helicopters, a far north Queensland focused operation catering to both high-end tourism and commercial helicopter charter with quick change multi-function platforms.
Mission Helicopters, a subsidiary of Australian owned Kestrel Aviation, was established in 2019 to provide high-end tourism and commercial helicopter charter for communities in Far North Queensland from its proposed base at Mission Beach.
Servicing the Cassowary Coast, an application has been lodged with Council to construct a purpose built helicopter and passenger handling facility which will service, amongst others Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and the Dunk and Bedarra Island resorts. The site also provides an important link for local tourism and the Great Barrier Reef.
"The type of helicopters proposed are highly specialised multi-role helicopters and provide a range of services including aerial firefighting, heavy-lift and aerial crane, and reconnaissance missions. There is a direct linkage between the specialist nature of these helicopters, and the high cost of operation, the number of movements will generally be lower than what would be expected from a tourism operation. The closest sensitive receptor is a residential dwelling which is located approximately 360 metres from the proposed aviation facility. This will minimise the impact of the development on the surrounding environment, residences and cassowaries"
Read the full report here.
Please show your support
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