Anger as chopper ban is shot down

NOOSA'S bid to shore up its $850 million tourism industry and help cushion local residents from intrusive day and night flyovers by banning commercial helicopter flights was shot down at the council last Thursday.

Angry residents who packed the Tewantin meeting, at times defying warnings by Mayor Mark Jamieson that he would have them ejected for interjecting, were aghast at some of the southern councillor's attitudes.

In particular they were incensed by an assertion from councillor Chris Thompson that the Noosa Biosphere, which he described as "one of the most beautiful places in the world", had been enhanced by aerial photos taken from helicopter flyovers along the Coast.

"What planet do you live on?" was one of the residents' responses from the gallery.

Noosa's Cr Tony Wellington, who had moved the ban motion, responded: "This is not just an occasional helicopter taking photographs, Cr Thompson. We're talking about helicopters going from 6am to 10 or 11 at night in groups - seven days a week."

He then added to loud gallery applause: "You guys don't have to live with it, the people here do."

While Caloundra-based Cr Tim Dwyer, who said he had to deal with aircraft noise in his division for the past 12 years, applauded Cr Wellington for trying to bring this matter to a head, he described the Teewah land strip ban as "policy on the run".

Cr Dwyer had pointed out to the council it was the Noosa Council that had allowed training flights on site in the first place and previously had a number of years before council amalgamation to resolve the issue.

Cr Wellington responded: "I accept that Noosa Council did allow helicopter training, but at the time it wasn't seven days a week, it wasn't day and night and it wasn't continuous.

"I'm not trying to prevent helicopter training. This has been going on for over 12 months, the discussion's been had, and this council has successfully buried its head in the sand at every turn."

Cr Wellington, with the support of fellow Noosa representative Cr Russell Green, wanted the pilot training flights and other commercial air movements at a parcel of land surrounded by national park to cease in January.

He wanted the council to join with local LNP Government MP Glen Elmes to work towards having the strip added to national park, while allowing ongoing community use by ultra lights and model aircraft.

Cr Green said in support of the ban: "The tourism industry in the Noosa region is $860 million per year - again a significant industry, the largest industry - and one that deserves protection.

"I believe what Cr Wellington has put before us here is a logical step to move forward and recognise the planning constraints in a parcel of land and a not preferred use that has escalated and grown and has continued to grow over the years without the potential for the community to have input."

Instead Cr Greg Rogerson won 10-3 support from the council to defer any decision, with the site to allow further consultation with the aviation sector, operators and community interests. Cr Jenny McKay wanted some sort of timeline for this consultation and the council agreed it would form part of the new Sunshine Coast planning scheme public feedback process soon to get under way.

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