Flawed and inadequate community engagement and misleading modelling have led to community backlash against Brisbane Airport’s new flight paths, according to Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance’s (BFPCA) submission to the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman’s (ANO) multiple complaints review.
A vast number of community grievances filed with the ANO triggered its multiple complaints review that is investigating Airservices Australia’s impact assessment of the flight paths and its engagement with the community as part of the flight design process.
BFPCA Chairperson, David Diamond, said the community group had worked with aviation experts, academics, and drew on community experiences with Brisbane’s new flight paths to prepare its submission to the ANO.
“Almost immediately from the time the new flight paths became operational we knew we had been misled,” David said. “Since planes began flying the new paths in July 2020 we’ve all been wondering how we could have been so blindsided by this,” he said.
“BFPCA welcomes the ANO’s multiple complaints review, and we have concentrated our efforts in preparing a professional, methodical and comprehensive response,” he said.
“What we have found is pretty damning – it essentially boils down to flawed modelling that drastically underestimated the true impacts of these new flight paths on Brisbane’s communities in BAC’s 2006 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). But the part that has many people furious is that the community engagement and communication around it was also flawed,” David said.
“The incomplete and inaccurate noise forecasts are a critical deficiency of the EIS. We believe it to be totally flawed.”
“BAC based their approach to engagement on their dredging works in Moreton Bay, which varies so drastically in scale, scope and impact from the introduction of kilometres and kilometres of new flight paths. This is staggering.”
“So, they concentrated on engagement closest to the airport, which makes sense if airports didn’t have planes flying in and out of them. Because airports are useless without their flight paths they are not discrete pieces of infrastructure,” David said. “Airports are more similar to highways or to rail lines than they are to dredging projects – they’re just highways in the sky. So, BAC treated the airport like a blob on the map and didn’t consider the lines coming in and out of the blob.”
“That is how so many people in the community were missed. But then you add the misinformation on top – and you have a complete failure to obtain a social license to operate from the community,” he said.
“They failed the simple test of trust that is core to every business in Australia – do what you say and say what you do.”
BFPCA’s submission highlights the discrepancies between noise levels and frequency promised during the EIS and on BAC’s BNE Flight Path Tool with the true figures as recorded by Airservices Australia’s own noise monitors. For instance, the Flight Path Tool says that New Farm can expect 0 flights that reach or exceed 70dB. Real data from February 2021 alone shows that there were actually 508 flights that were 70+dB, with 17 over 75dB and 8 even over 80dB.
“We have countless examples of communities that have been told that planes would primarily fly over the bay and are now experiencing a different reality – from right across Brisbane,” David said. “These frustrations are boiling over and communities are targeting their elected representatives to voice their anger at being misled.”
“Some communities like those in Upper Brookfield were even completely ignored by BAC, they weren’t engaged at all and are now being hammered by noise – that’s how flawed the engagement methodology was. And when they have written to their federal member, they have been fobbed off with boilerplate lines about the engagement program that was run in 2006,” David said.
“To us this is unacceptable. To suggest that the ship has sailed because of a flawed and misleading engagement campaign that occurred more than a decade ago to a community that wasn’t even approached as part of that campaign is farcical,” he said.
BFPCA has completed its submission to the ANO and is now awaiting the outcome of the multiple complaints review, which includes the results of a community survey with more than 2,000 respondents. The survey shows 80% of respondents indicated they were not engaged by Brisbane Airport Corporation during its community engagement. Despite this, 58% indicated they sought out information regarding the new runway and flight paths. Further, 81% said they were not prepared for the number of planes that are now flying right above them.
“People are hurting,” David said. “We’re a community group that’s advocating for those impacted by the flight paths, but we’re also about providing peer support to those suffering. We’re going to be holding our first event of a social gathering series in New Farm Park on Saturday 17 April 2021 to share our experiences and seek some peer therapy from those in the same boat. If you’re struggling with aircraft noise and other flight paths impacts, we encourage you to attend,” he said.
|When:||Saturday, 17 April 2021, 10 am to 12 noon|
|Where:||New Farm Park, Brisbane, between the rotunda and the CityCat terminal in the grassy area facing the river|
|What:||Bring a picnic and a blanket, share some of your own personal experiences how the flight paths affect you, and meet the volunteers on the BFPCA committee to discuss further actions and next steps in our collective fight. This is a family-friendly event. Please refrain from bringing or consuming alcohol. Please observe social distancing rules applicable at the time. And doggies are very welcome!|