Paragliders set to stay up over Sunrise

STAYING PUT: The paragliders look to have narrowly won a right to stay on at Sunrise Beach in this urban fly zone.
STAYING PUT: The paragliders look to have narrowly won a right to stay on at Sunrise Beach in this urban fly zone. Contributed

FOUR Noosa councillors have taken a leap of faith by supporting the continued used of a Sunrise Beach public park for paragliding take-offs.

This despite a paraglider recently crashing into powerlines creating a power stoppage to more than 2000 homes in the area.

The vote at Monday's general committee for council to work with the Sunshine Coast Sports Aviators on a management plan flew in the face of staunch opposition from Mayor Tony Wellington and Cr Brian Stockwell.

Cr Wilkie won general committee support for a three-year flying activity permit issue at the site to be reviewed annually.

Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie, Cr Joe Jurisevic, Cr Ingrid Jackson and Cr Frank Pardon voted against a ban at Tingira Cres take off site in Sunrise Beach.

Councillors were told there were three or four residents who were unhappy with proposed management measurements put up previously by the SCSA.

Cr Stockwell had moved the council staff recommendation to stop the flying activities at the park "due to the unreasonable impact on resident amenity”.

He argued the parkland was not meant to be used for recreational purposes and the aviation use had outlived this "highly urbanised carrying capacity”.

"Just because it was around in the (19)60s, '70s and '80s doesn't make it suitable now,” he said.

Cr Stockwell said the flyers were inflicting health, safety and privacy impacts on residents. He showed photographs and a short video of paragliders flying close to homes with powerlines in view.

Cr Stockwell read statements of a number of residents including "We don't want people flying over our homes disrupting our right to privacy and quiet enjoyment”.

Another said: "Let this activity in a non-residential area”.

Cr Stockwell said: "I do believe the council has the weight of responsibility ... I know there will those that stopping the use is just another example of being the fun police, but that's not correct”.

Cr Jurisevic said the flyers had already prohibited the use of in-flight cameras to manage privacy concerns which showed their willingness to address the issues through a "sensible, proactive” management plan.

He said only a small number of residents had expressed concerns and council staff admitted it was three to four who were most concerned.

Cr Jurisevic, Cr Jackson and Cr Wilkie all noted that, due to scant availability of easterly wind conditions, the site was used only around three days a month.

Cr Jackson said there had been 30 residents of Sunshine and Sunrise who supported the land use for paragliding by the SCSA and cited legal advice that the council would not be found legally negligent by allowing this continued use.

"Are we going to stop bikes (in Noosa)? Because there has been some serious deaths ... accidents with bikes on our roads.

"I don't think so.”

Cr Wilkie was "not convinced” the ban recommendation was "anything but an overreaction” to a small number of complainants and said the aviators had spent "some $10,000” on electrical wire insulation close to the site to help prevent any power outages.

He did not want to support council creating a precedent by shutting down this site based on a nuisance complaint.

Mayor Wellington said the nature of the use of the site had shifted markedly with the use of paragliders which could hover.

"Fundamentally I believe that this site is inappropriate both in terms of safety and for the sake of privacy for our residents,” he said.

"I do have concerns about the proximity of power lines to the site,” he said.

"Cr Jurisevic called for better management, but by whom? Do we expect our ratepayers to suddenly pay for further resourcing so that council can monitor this site?” the mayor said.

He suggested there were other sites where the activities could take place.

Cr Stockwell, in his closing summary said if his motion did not succeed, he would be seeking state ministerial advice about whether this aviation activity was appropriate use for this park.

"It is an organised sporting activity in reserve for park purposes which is inconsistent,” Cr Stockwell said.

"There is no argument that this creates nuisance, and there is no argument that it opens this council up to have to defend legal cases using ratepayers' money to defend those cases of nuisance.

"My concerns are that blind Freddy can see it's unsafe.

"The recreation's great, I've got no problems with it ... it's in the wrong spot in the current environment.”

He urged councillors to rethink to no avail.

The unsuccessful ban motion also had the support of Cr Jess Glasgow.

Cr Wilkie then moved his motion to continue work on the management plan.

"There's been significant work done along those lines,” the deputy mayor said.

"I feel it's only fair that that be allowed to run it's course.

"It will give us good information about the duration, frequency of the flights, the nature of the complaints to allow this and future councils to make more informed decisions,” Cr Wilkie said.

Councillors were to formally vote last night on this final permit recommendation.

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