The Kempsey Airport Noise Management Plan (NMP) has been adopted by Kempsey Shire Council today, following an extensive period of community engagement and lengthy discussion within the Council meeting.
While the Noise Management Plan is a complex technical document, the level of community feedback on noise, particularly that generated by circuit training, shaped the resolution of Council. In addition to the NMP document, Council resolved to put a range of mechanisms in place to manage the impact of future uses of the Kempsey Airport.
General Manager, Craig Milburn, answered many questions from Councillors during today’s debate.
“After three months on public exhibition and more than 170 submissions, this is an enormous body of work. I’m proud of the analytical approach the staff took in developing this report for Council’s consideration.
“By presenting analysis on the principles of a quadruple bottom line – people, profit, planet and progress – we have been able to devise important criteria.
“Any future development applications or agreements with pilot training operators from our Airport will need to come to Council, include notification to a wider radius of residents near the Airport and demonstrate that an overall community benefit is achieved,” confirmed Mr Milburn.
The Kempsey Airport Reference Group (KARG), established in August 2017 and made up of Council and community representatives, were a critical part of the process to develop the Noise Management Plan. Also significant in the development of the Plan was analysis of noise monitoring data collected from 17 locations surrounding the Airport over an eight-week period.
Mayor Liz Campbell believes the lengthy debate and the considered approach taken by Council highlights the significance of the matter.
“It’s important to recognise that most submissions received were from residents who lived close to the Kempsey Airport.
“Council’s decisions though have to balance localised impact within the context of the whole Shire. The resolution and commitment to evaluation against the quadruple bottom line means we’ve achieved that,” said Mayor Campbell.
Council also resolved to make a request to CASA and Air Services Australia who regulate the safety of Airports and aircraft operators, to seek changes to the En-Route Supplement Australia (ERSA) or operational guidelines of the Airport, as part of the noise abatement procedures Council will put in place.
Those proposed changes will incorporate hours of operation relevant to circuit training for both visiting and local aircraft and a requirement for aircraft to climb to 1,000 feet before commencing the circuit, pending on the advice of CASA.
“I understand the community wanted no circuit training flights from local operators allowed on public holidays, but our research indicates that very few airports are that specific in their operating hours.
“When you look at everything Council resolved today, we now have the opportunity for greater scrutiny on any future operators conducting circuit training and that’s a result of listening to the concerns of the community,” concluded Mr Milburn.
The next step in the process is to finalise a draft Fly Neighbourly Advice (FNA) and place it on public exhibition. The FNA is a practical and less technical agreement for users of Kempsey Airport.