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Aircraft Noise Levy Bill 1995 [and] Aircraft Noise Levy Collection Bill 1995
House: House of Representatives
Commencement: On Royal Assent or 1 July 1995, whichever is the later.
To impose a levy on aircraft noise at designated State and internal Territory airports.
Noise pollution, like air and water pollution, is a by-product of an industrialised society. Unlike water and air pollution, noise pollution cannot readily be given a value beyond which impacts are undesirable. This is because noise perception is a subjective, personal experience which varies widely between individuals.
The three main recognised effects of noise on people are:
health effects such as increased blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and stress;
direct effects on activities such as sleep disturbance and communication interference; and
psychological effects such as disturbance, annoyance, loss of amenity. 1
While the issue of aircraft noise pollution has received increased attention in recent times, complaints about the nuisance inflicted on Australian communities by aircraft noise date from as early as 1957. 2 Successive governments have addressed the issue to varying degrees.
In September 1985, the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise (HORSCAN), tabled a report titled Aircraft Operations and the Australian Community. The Committee's terms of reference included reporting on:
the impact of aircraft noise on the health and welfare of people, institutions and communities;
the effectiveness of existing noise reduction regulations and administrative procedures; and
the effect of aircraft emissions on people and property.
HORSCAN recommended that:
the then Commonwealth Department of Health, in consultation with State and local governments, complete a study to determine the effects of aircraft noise on health and mortality;
the then Commonwealth Department of Communications survey the extent of aircraft interference with television (TV) reception and investigate alleviating measures;
compensation be paid to property owners who because of land acquisition for a new airport or redevelopment of an existing airport, suffer a reduction in value of their land not acquired for those purposes;
the Commonwealth, in consultation with State and local governments, introduce a scheme for acquiring residences within high noise zones surrounding military and civil airports; and
legislation establishing the Federal Airports Corporation (FAC) include consideration of environmental matters in the functioning of the FAC. 3
The Federal Government's response to HORSCAN in September 1990 was that:
the Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health had indicated that overseas studies had not yet produced any conclusive findings on the health effects of noise;
the costs of such a study would be substantial and, that on the available evidence, aircraft noise and health could not be considered a high public health priority;
the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Communications had advised that there was no practical remedy for aircraft-induced TV picture flutter on VHF channels and that this was apparently accepted by the public and no further action was proposed by the Government;
the Government would not take up the recommendation relating to compensation for reduced land value resulting from land acquisition for a new airport, due to:
- the complexities of calculating the extent of compensation;
- the uncertain but possibly extensive cost across the whole range of
infrastructure provision; and
- the possibility of windfall gains to those compensated;
the Government proposed legislation giving FAC the flexibility to acquire properties at current market value for noise abatement reasons. The proposed legislation would not entitle householders to demand purchase within a specific time frame and would be limited by the funds available to FAC and the Department of Defence; and
the Government would amend the legislation in relation to FAC and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to require those organisations to take account of the environmental effects of aircraft operations. 4
The Civil Aviation Act 1988 and the Federal Airports Corporations Act 1986 were subsequently amended to:
make CAA responsible for protecting the environment from the effects of civil aircraft operation and use;
require CAA to perform its functions (other than its regulatory functions) to ensure, as far as is practicable, that the environment is protected from the effects of civil aircraft operation and use;
make FAC responsible for protecting the environment from the effects of civil aircraft operation and use at Federal airports; and
require FAC to perform its functions to ensure, as far as is practicable, that the environment is protected from the effects of civil aircraft operation and use at Federal airports. 5
The Third Runway at Sydney Airport
In April 1988 the then Minister for Transport and Communications, Senator the Hon Gareth Evans, QC, the Premier of NSW, the Hon Nick Greiner, MP, agreed to establish a Joint Commonwealth/New South Wales (NSW) Government Task Force to consider the airport needs of the Sydney Basin. Following extensive consultation a three-pronged strategy addressing short-term, medium-term and long-term airport needs was developed. 6
In March 1989, as part of the medium-term strategy, the Hawke Government announced its intention to develop a third runway at Kingsford-Smith Airport, subject to the satisfactory completion of normal environmental assessment processes. Following this decision, FAC engaged Kinhill Engineers Pty Ltd to conduct an environmental impact study (EIS) on the third runway.
Kinhill's 700 page draft EIS was completed in September 1990. It recommended the development of a third runway, citing compelling cost and economic advantages.
In 1990, Kingsford-Smith Airport was almost at capacity and total congestion was expected by 1995. The construction of an extra runway was essentially a measure to buy time and ease airport congestion for a couple of years. 7 Pro-third runway exponents argued that tourism was Australia's greatest foreign income earner and that if tourists were turned away because of air traffic congestion the country would certainly go into a recession. They also suggested that if the runway were not built, there would be enormous pressures on Kingsford-Smith to have its curfew lifted and operate on a 24 hour basis like other international airports.
Kinhill's report also claimed that a third runway would cut the number of Sydney households exposed to property-devaluing serious aircraft noise. The post-construction aircraft noise exposure forecast (ANEF) estimated a 50 per cent overall reduction in the number of people affected by aircraft noise, mainly in those suburbs to the east and west of the airport. This would mean that in total approximately 100,000 fewer people would be affected by aircraft noise if the third runway opened. This forecast included a further 27,000 people to the north of the airport who would be affected by aircraft noise for the first time.
These figures were questioned by the Second Airport Coalition (SAC) - a resident's group opposed to the third runway and vying for a second airport. The SAC suggested that:
the designers of the residential noise assessment criteria used in the Kinhill EIS believed the criteria had been applied incorrectly;
as many as 600,000 (and not 27,000) people would in fact be affected by aircraft noise for the first time (this figure was reportedly obtained from the FAC 8 );
an extra runway would only buy time in easing air traffic congestion if Kinhill's forecast 2 per cent increase in aviation was realised - the 2 percent figure was questioned in light of the estimated 6 percent growth in world aviation and the 9 percent growth in the Asia/Pacific region; and
the real issue was not either a new airport at Badgery's Creek or a third runway but:
- a new airport; or
- a new airport and a third runway. 9
David Taylor, Chief Executive of the NSW Chamber of Commerce, and then spokesperson for the Kingsford-Smith Airport Task Force, a private lobby group, agreed that it was Badgery's Creek and the third runway:
When the Government makes the decision next year, two sods of dirt have to be turned at the same time - one at Kingsford-Smith to build the third runway, and one at
Badgery's Creek to build that over 15 to 20 years.
In November 1991, the Government granted FAC approval to proceed with the construction of the third runway at Kingsford-Smith Airport. This decision was made on the basis that FAC would adopt a number of environmental recommendations including:
asking CAA to prepare an official ANEF for a third runway;
investigating ways of improving the noise insulation of new buildings;
considering a noise insulation scheme for existing education and health care facilities and residences;
considering the acquisition of certain noise-affected buildings and residential land;
consideration of rezoning for non-residential use any noise-effected land acquired;
acquiring funds based on "polluter-pays" and "user pays" principles;
recommending any necessary legislation to allow the collection and management of such funds; and
considering different noise charges based on whether aircraft met recognised noise emission requirements. 10
When Kingsford Smith's third runway was opened on 4 November 1994, the intensified noise levels to the north and south caused a high level of public reaction. The Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has since conducted noise monitoring to determine the extent of noise problems inside and outside residences and schools under the current flight paths. The results indicate that both the inside and outside amenity (e.g. teaching, study, relaxing, sleeping, and normal domestic and outdoor activities) of residences and schools is greatly affected by aircraft noise.
The EPA's December 1994 Report on the Noise Impact of the Third Runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport recommended that:
the Government pursue the development of Badgery's Creek Airport to a level capable of handling international jet aircraft as a matter of the highest priority;
the 1985 Badgery's Creek EIS be revised to address noise and air and water quality so as to minimise environmental impact; and
the combined operator/regulator role of both the FAC and CAA be examined. The maximum level of environmental protection will be afforded where the roles of operator and regulator are handled by independent agencies. 11
Noise Amelioration Measures at Kingsford-Smith Airport
Coinciding with the opening of the third runway in November 1994, Federal Cabinet approved a $183.4 million package over the next ten years aimed at reducing the impact of aircraft noise on residents living around Sydney Airport. The package included an extra $8.4 million for the voluntary acquisition of 112 houses, the insulation of 3,500 houses and more insulation in public buildings. In summary, the proposed noise amelioration measures are as follows:
(a) Remedial Measures
voluntary sound insulation for existing residences in areas between the 30-40 ANEF contours (year 2010 contours) - see Appendix 1;
voluntary sound insulation for existing schools, colleges, hospitals, churches, child care centres and health care centres in areas between the 40 ANEF and 25 ANEF (ultimate capacity) contour;
voluntary acquisition of residences and churches in the highest noise zone (40 Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) year 2010 contour);
review to be conducted after three years to further assess the impact of aircraft noise arising from the level and type of operations occurring at that time and the application of remedial measures to residential properties below the 30 ANEF contour;
remedial measures to be financed by aviation users charges based on aircraft noise certification levels;
a pilot study to identify most effective insulation measures for residences to proceed as soon as possible;
establishment of broad based committee to monitor implementation of remedial measures and a disputes resolution panel to examine specific problems;
airport noise from possible extensions to domestic terminal to be reduced by an earth mound or similar attenuation measure;
(b) Operational Noise Controls
no take-offs to the north from the new runway;
use of the east-west runway only when weather conditions preclude the use of the other runways for safety reasons;
strict enforcement of airport curfew (this currently restricts aircraft movements between 11.00pm and 6.00am);
operations to involve maximisation of take-offs in a southerly direction;
use of standard flight paths to confine fly-overs to specified areas; and
existing controls on times and locations of ground running operations (the operation of aircraft engines prior to clearance for take-off) to be retained;
(c) Monitoring and Community Consultation
upgraded procedures and resources for complaint response;
upgraded reporting of ground running operations;
addition of four new local-area noise monitoring terminals;
annual reporting on implementation, including reporting on aircraft operations and on the progress of remedial measures;
annual production of an Australian Noise Exposure Index (noise exposure contours plotted for existing conditions) showing noise exposure for the previous year; and
the Sydney Airport Environment Sub-Committee will monitor airport activities, examine issues of public concern and provide an avenue for regular reporting of airport environmental activities.
Badgery's Creek - Sydney's Second Airport
The draft EIS into a second Sydney Airport was released by the then Department of Aviation in June 1985 and in December 1985 the Federal Government announced that Badgery's Creek was the selected site.
Initial planning for Badgery's Creek was for a general aviation 1,800 metre runway to be developed by 1995, and for the airport come fully on-stream by 2015. In May 1994 the Government announced the accelerated development of a 2,900 metre runway (in place of the 1,800 metre one) capable of handling wide-bodied jet aircraft take-offs and landings to be commissioned in 1998-99. 12
In November 1994 the Social Security Minister, Hon.Peter Baldwin MP, began a push to fast-track the construction of Badgery's Creek to combat problems caused by aircraft noise in the inner city. He argued for bringing forward $120 million funding included in the forward estimates for 1996-97 and 97-98 to order to get the Badgerys Creek airport up and running within three years in order to:
protect the curfew on Kingsford-Smith (Badgery's Creek has been designed as a curfew-free airport) by diverting jet traffic to Badgery's Creek, and
ease Kingsford-Smith's environmental impact on people in the inner city. 13
The May 1995 Federal budget contains a commitment to provide $610 million additional funding for the accelerated development of Badgery's Creek Airport (Sydney West Airport), by 1999. This means a total funding commitment of $762 million for site development and associated infrastructure. The additional funding will ensure that a second Sydney airport capable of handling all domestic services and 94 percent of flights to international destinations is operational for the 2000 Olympics.
The Federal Government has stated a commitment to:
work with State and local government authorities to ensure that land use around Badgery's Creek is compatible with airport development;
fund supplementary environmental studies to develop accurate ANEFs to ensure that environmental problems associated with Kingsford Smith are not imposed upon those living near the new airport;
reduce the aircraft noise burden on Sydney's inner city residents by allocating $260m for a noise insulation program and by bringing forward the development of the second Sydney airport. 14
The Government's additional funding commitment reportedly arose from a belief that Sydney's aviation infrastructure had suffered for too long from short-term planning and a lack of integration causing major capacity problems and placing an enormous burden upon Sydney's inner-city residents. 15
When announcing the November 1994 Kingsford-Smith noise amelioration package, the Minister for Transport, Mr Brereton, said it was the Government's view was that the airline industry should pay for the measures and would introduce legislation to give effect to this decision in early 1995. 16
This legislation gives effect to that decision.
Subclause 5(1) will impose a levy ("the landing levy") on all jet aircraft landings (JALs), other than those excluded by subclause 5(2), at designated airports around the country.
Subclause 5(2) provides that the landing levy will not apply to:
Defence aircraft or aircraft commanded by Defence personnel in the course of their duties (unless the aircraft is registered in Australia by the Civil Aviation Authority)
aircraft used in the military, customs or police services of a foreign country
aircraft with an effected perceived noise level (EPNL - see Appendix 2) of less than 265 decibels
emergency services landings as prescribed by the regulations
landings for charitable purposes as prescribed by the regulations.
The Airport Levy Collection Bill 1995 outlines the criteria an airport must meet before it qualifies for declaration as a "leviable airport" (that is, an airport at which JALs attract a levy). While Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport is the only Australian airport which currently meets the specified criteria, other airports may qualify in the future.
An airport will meet the criteria of "qualifying airport" if, at the time there is a:
a public building such as a
- nursing home,
- educational facility,
- aged-care residence,
- child-care centre, or
- religious services building
located within a 25-unit contour of the airport (as shown on an existing ANEF -
see Appendix 1); or
a residence located within a 30-unit contour of the airport (as shown on an existing ANEF); and
the Commonwealth has taken steps to compensate and/or reduce the impact of the aircraft noise on the occupants of those buildings or residences (i.e. has or is implementing a "noise amelioration program").
Where an airport is, or becomes, a qualifying airport, the Minister is required to publish as soon as possible , an irrevocable and non-amendable Gazette notice to that effect. This done, the Minister may then:
declare the qualifying airport to be a leviable airport for a specified period;
change the period for which an airport is a leviable airport; or
revoke a declaration.
The effect of Clause 7 will be to make the jet aircraft operator (JAO) liable for payment of the levy. The JAO (determined with reference to Clause 4 of the Airport Levy Collection Bill 1995) will be the person:
holding the Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) and operating the aircraft (regardless of whether there is any other operating authority);
granted permission under section 27A of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 (the CA Act 1988) and operating the aircraft (regardless of whether there is any other authority for operating the aircraft);
holding the international licence issued under the Air Navigation Regulations or operating the aircraft under an agreement with a licensee approved by the Secretary under subsection 12(1B) of the Air Navigation Act 1920 (but not a permission under section 27A of the CA Act 1988 or an AOC);
granted permission under subsection 25(2), 25(3) or 26(1) of the CA Act 1988 (but not a permission under section 27A of the CA Act 1988 or an AOC); or
where none of the above apply, the holder of the aircraft registration certificate (whether the aircraft was registered in Australia or a foreign country).
Amount of Landing Levy
The landing levy will not be a fixed amount applied to all JALs. The amount of landing levy applied to a given JAL will relate to a pre-determined assessment of that aircraft's landing noise. Essentially, the louder the landing, the higher the levy.
Clause 6 provides that landing levy will be calculated in accordance with the formula:
levy unit x 2 ( assessed noise - 265)/15
where the "levy unit" is an amount derived in accordance with the regulations and "assessed noise" is the number equal to the EPNL in decibels of the aircraft concerned).
The levy unit must not exceed:
for any landings made from the date the Act commences until 30 June 1996 - $180; or
for any landings made in a later financial year - 110% of the maximum amount applying to landings in the previous financial year (this will have the effect of increasing the levy unit ceiling by 10% every financial year).
Clause 6 also provides that a single levy unit amount will apply to all JALs at leviable airports in a particular period, i.e. the levy unit amount will not change from landing to landing or aircraft to aircraft.
Clause 8 allows the Governor-General to make regulations for the purposes of imposing the levy and determining the applicable amount of landing levy.
1. Report on the Noise Impact of the Third Runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, Environment Protection Agency, December 1994, page 5.
2. Report from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, October 1970, page 5.
3. House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, Aircraft Operations and the Australian Community, September 1985, pp ix-xii.
4. Government Response to the Report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, Department of Transport and Communications, September 1990, pages 2-15.
5. Bills Digest, "Transport and Communications Legislation Amendment Bill 1990", 7 November 1990.
6. Proposed Third Runway Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport draft Environmental Impact Statement, Kinhill Engineers Pty Ltd, September 1990, page 1-1.
7. Proposed Third Runway at Kingsford-Smith:EIS by Kinhill Engineers, 7.30 Report, Wednesday 19 September 1990.
10. Report on the Noise Impact of the Third Runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, EPA, December 1994, page 20.
11. Ibid., page 32.
12. Report on the Noise Impact of the Third Runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith)
Airport, EPA, December 1994, page 20.
13. Proposal to Fast Track the Construction of Badgery's Creek Airport, A.M., Monday 28 November 1994.
14. House of Representatives, Parliamentary Debate (Hansard), 10 May 1995, p 205.
15. Press Release T64/94 "New Noise Management Measures for Sydney Airport", Hon. Laurie Brereton, Minister for Transport, 1 November 1994.
Allison Ballard (Ph. 06 277 2751)
Bills Digest Service 30 May 1995
Parliamentary Research Service
This Digest does not have any legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.
Commonwealth of Australia 1995.
Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.
Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1995.
Report on the Noise Impact of the Third Runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, Environment Protection Agency, December 1994, page 5.
2 Report from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, October 1970, page 5.
3 House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, Aircraft Operations and the Australian Community, September 1985, pp. ix-xii.
Government Response to the Report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, Department of Transport and Communications, September 1990, pages 2-15.
Bills Digest, "Transport and Communications Legislation Amendment Bill 1990", 7 November 1990.
Proposed Third Runway Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Kinhill Engineers Pty Ltd, September 1990, page 1-1.
Proposed Third runway at Kingsford-Smith Airport: EIS by Kinhill Engineers. 7.30 Report, Wednesday 19 September 1990.
Report on the Noise Impact of the Third Runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport,
EPA, December 1994, page 20.
11 Ibid., page 32.
Report on the Noise Impact of the Third Runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, EPA, December 1994, page 5.
13 Proposal to Fast Track the Construction of Badgerys Creek Airport, A.M., Monday 28 November 1994.
14 House of Representatives, Parliamentary Debate (Hansard), 10 May 1995, page 205.
15 Ibid., page 205.
16 Press Release T64/94 "New Noise Management Measures for Sydney Airport", Hon. Laurie Brereton, Minister for Transport, 1 November 1994.