An X marks the landing space for helicopters.
An X marks the landing space for helicopters. Contributed

Residents affected by noise

NEW Sunshine Coast Councillor Tony Wellington has asked council to clarify whether the commercial use of Teewah Airstrip is a lawful use.

Cr Wellington before the election was a staunch advocate for the Noosa North Shore reserve being transferred to national park and his position has not changed.

"Issues have been raised about whether the commercial use of the airstrip is even legal given the fact that it is not zoned for community facilities, but rather open space recreation," said Cr Wellington.

"These matters were raised by Noosa Parks Association a year ago, with no response emanating from council.

"Accordingly I am now seeking clarification on this matter in my position as Councillor for Division 12."

The councillor said it is possible for the reserve to be transferred into national park with special conditions allowing the continued community use by ultralights and model planes, as well as occasional emergency landings by helicopters.

"However, on-going use by commercial operators would have to stop," Cr Wellington said.

"It is quite clear that the use of the landing ground reserve has increased over the last year and a half.

"What we now have is commercial training operations using the airstrip on an almost daily basis, with flights ranging from early morning to late evening."

The councillor said the commercial use of the reserve presents amenity problems for

residents affected by noise from flights to and from the airstrip.

"It is also an issue for conservationists who view the use as incompatible with the intentions of a national park," he said.

"I understand even QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service) have received complaints from visitors to the National Park complaining about helicopters inside the park."

Cr Wellington said transfer of the reserve into national park was recommended in 1991, approved by State Cabinet in 1992 and reinforced in the Great Sandy Management Plan in 1994.

Cr Wellington said the LNP local member Glen Elmes is very keen to see the matter resolved but any resolution will require agreement between the two tiers of government.

"Arguments in favour of the continued use of the airstrip for helicopter training tend to centre around the economic benefits to the region," he said.

"However, the ongoing commercial use of the airstrip is a major inhibitor - perhaps the single biggest impediment - to the application for World Heritage listing of the whole of Cooloola.

"And World Heritage status is something that I believe would bring with it far greater economic benefits plus a win for the environment."

Cr Wellington said is not unreasonable to ask whether local residents should be impacted on by a business just because that business happens to bring economic benefits.

"It has been noted in the local press that the business using the landing ground reserve most intensively has a contract to train the Saudi National Guard. Plainly there are other places, arguably better suited, to train military helicopter pilots. Indeed a clearing in the pine forests south of Caloundra would seem to be a far better option."

Council has been asked for a comment on the airstrip's future but had not responded by the Noosa News deadline.

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