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Effectiveness of Airservices Australia's management of aircraft noise

CHAIR —I now welcome representatives from FairSkies and Core Luxury Retreat. Do you need to make any amendments or alterations to any of the submissions you have lodged?

Mr Davies —I have an alteration to one date in my submission. On page 2, at the end of the first sentence of the third paragraph, the date given as 28 November 2008 should be 20 November 2008.

CHAIR —Thank you very much. Would any of you like to make brief opening statements before we move to questions?

Mr Davies —We thank you, Senators, for the opportunity to address this hearing. The FairSkies group was formed during 2009 in response to air route changes introduced by Airservices Australia at and around Perth Airport and in wider areas of Western Australia. Although this is a national inquiry, we will focus mainly on the impact of the Western Australia Route Review Project changes within the Perth Hills area to the east of Perth Airport. We feel the policies and models applied here have some relevance to how Airservices conduct their consultation process and implement air route changes nationally. We feel that often this is done with indifference to the increased environmental impacts on many persons affected by the changes to routes.

To give a personal indication of the impact of some of these changes, last Wednesday I visited a family in the north-east of Chidlow who live at the site of one of the temporary noise monitors installed recently by Airservices. The monitors were installed as a result of community requests to the Shire of Mundaring representative on the Perth Airport noise monitoring consultative committee, PANMCC, as far back as September 2009 or maybe earlier. It took that long to have them installed. As I arrived at the property, I got out of my car at 6.15 pm and was struck by the complete absence of any sound. For a moment I thought my ears were not working; I could not hear any sound. There were no cars, no planes and no neighbours’ booming music. Such a lack of sound is sometimes referred to as a deafening silence.

After meeting the residents I viewed the noise monitor installation and noticed that the background noise level was registering on the display at 26 to 29 decibels, fluctuating momentarily; let us call that 30. The noise monitor was not connected to the Airservices data network, although it was operating, so it was not logging noise events. I understand the technicians had, for some reason, installed the incorrect mobile phone SIM card and are due to replace it with the correct sometime today. Shortly afterwards, a Boeing 767 jet approached from the south-west, heading for Perth Airport. The reading on the meter began to climb steadily to a peak of 59.9 decibels—let us say 60—as it passed overhead. The difference to me was remarkable. Although it was not painful and the walls were not shaking, the visual impact in the dark forest was startling. All the lights were on and all the fruit was hanging out.

If I may, I would like to offer a layman’s explanation of the significance of the decibel readings. By simple algebra, the difference between 30 and 60 decibels would appear to be double: two times 30 equals 60. However, that is not the case because the decibel scale is logarithmic. My understanding is that each six-decibel increase represents a doubling of the sound pressure. In this case it would mean that the sound pressure had doubled five times—two by two by two, five times over. That is an increase of 32 times in the sound pressure. I am sure a noise expert could verify what I am saying. This increase is contrasted against the very low background noise that the residents are used to living with. For them, it is like a wall of sound approaching and is enough to wake them from sleep or disturb their daytime routines.

Such an event would not be unusual close to the airport, but this property is approximately 34 kilometres—that is, for the aviation people, 18.5 nautical miles—as the crow flies from the airport. The aircraft itself had 38 kilometres left to go on its dogleg route before it landed at the airport, so it was significantly further from the airport than the ANEF corridors. This new route, introduced as a result of the WARRP, passes very near to this property, but the residents expect little respite with change of wind direction, because there are a total of two new jet routes and two new turbo jet routes crossing in all directions at various times almost directly above their house. I understand that one of those routes has been realigned from where it was previously, about four to five kilometres to the north.

In their February briefing to the residents of the Shire of Mundaring, Airservices said that these changes were not significant because they were well to the east and the north-east. People saw no evidence of consultation with local communities before the changes were introduced in November 2008. So, no matter which way the wind blows, there will always be heavy passenger aircraft flying above this family—many times at very low altitudes—and supplying them with a steady of stream of deadening noise. The lady at the property has stated to me that she has also experienced a recurrence of asthma symptoms, something that she has not had for many years, since these changes were introduced.

Later, I checked the details of the 767 overflight on WebTrak, a web allocation that the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government recommends in their submission to this inquiry as an excellent example of where Airservices have already improved the presentation of aircraft noise information to the community. I discovered the aircraft was at a height of 1,295 metres—that is, 4,2094 feet—above sea level when it passed near the property. Herein lies a fundamental flaw in WebTrak: it uses a flat earth view of the world that does not take account of hills and elevated terrain. All altitudes are quoted as above mean sea level. The property I speak of is actually 300 metres above sea level, so the aircraft height above ground level was actually 995 metres, or 3,200-odd feet.

Many of the areas in the hills are at the same elevation of 300 metres, and that is well below the altitude of 5,000 feet above ground level required for jet aircraft to be considered a significant problem, if one believes the Airservices guidelines in their document Environmental Principles and Procedures for the Minimising of the Impact of Aircraft Noise. If the aircraft were following a continuous descent approach, a procedure which is touted by ASA as minimising noise impact and reducing fuel consumption, it would ideally have been at 2,300 metres level, or 7,600 feet—almost double the altitude above ground that it was at—so we wonder if the CDA is really going to be of any assistance a it appears to be nonenforceable and under the control of the pilot as to whether to adhere to it. I have included an annotated screen capture from WebTrak of the 767 event and four following that occurred in my 50-minute visit on that day.

On Tuesday morning, at about two minutes to six, I was awoken by a turbo jet aircraft flying over my home in Glenn Forest. It continued on to the north-west and passed over the second temporary noise monitor installed in Chidlow. This one is connected to the WebTrak network. The reading at this monitor was 65 decibels. The aircraft itself was a Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner, a type which first saw service in 1972 and no doubt has been updated with more powerful engines and avionics since then. So, despite Airservices’ promise of new aircraft technology reducing the noise impact, it seems they are still flying and will continue to cause noise problems for residents for who knows how long into the future.

These situations are typical of what I know is occurring day-to-day in other areas of the hills. It is little wonder that we in the hills, and probably elsewhere, simply find it difficult to believe anything we are told by Airservices—statements such as:

Aircraft are not flying low over properties—


Airservices followed a consultation model we employ nationally for airspace reviews—


Airservices also continually updated local councils in the Bayswater, Belmont, South Perth, Canning, Gosnells, Mundaring and Kalamunda areas throughout the review period.

We, as residents, did not see that. Airservices also stated:

There have been no significant changes, with the new routes, shown here in green, well to the east and north.

The residents there consider it a significant change. Airservices went on to state:

  • Aircraft using the new procedures are using less fuel, reducing CO2 emissions.

That would be good—if they were. I will leave it there. Mr Anderson has a few words to say.

Mr Anderson —In my initial submission, I drew attention to the following: that Airservices Australia ignored its own environmental principles and procedures in planning and implementing at least one of the routes introduced by WARRP; that at least one of its senior officers appeared ignorant of some of the changes to the routes nine months after their implementation; that Airservices Australia is not monitoring the actions of air traffic control with regard to adherence to the new routes to the detriment of the community with regard to further noise pollution; and, that Airservices Australia failed to consult effectively with the community over these changes and, when they did communicate with the public, they have attempted to hide behind the cloak of safety. In October 2009, at the request of Airservices Australia, I submitted some alternative proposals for departure and arrival routes. Although Mr Dudley stated publicly at a meeting in Mundaring that my proposal should be evaluated, he has made no effort to inform me of this evaluation.

CHAIR —On what basis or with what qualifications where you are asked to give that information?

Mr Anderson —I am a retired airline pilot.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Mr Anderson —In my supplementary submission, I showed that the Airservices Australia noise inquiry unit is simply a recording service and it does nothing to alleviate or solve noise problems. Besides this, Airservices Australia has performed many actions which, at best, might be described as disingenuous.

CHAIR —Does anybody else wish to make opening comments?

Ms Davies —I would like to make a couple of quick statements and maybe clarify what I was hearing earlier. I served as a councillor on the Mundaring shire for 4½ years and for two of those years I served on PANMCC as an elected representative from 2007 until 2009. The first I started hearing about it was noises in December 2008 when people from my local community started to complain to me. I checked with PANMCC and in the April 2009 meeting that was the first I ever heard of a change in the routes. I then started doing my homework, doing some forensic research to find out what had happened before because I could not understand why this had never come up. One of the things I found, which might clarify some of Senator Siewert’s questions, is that in the PANMCC meeting for 4 October 2006—I have some draft minutes here—it states the Mr Devenish requested that the environmental assessment reports should be made available to committee members in time to make comment prior to track changes being adopted. Those were never provided. Tor Petersen, who was an officer with Perth airport, wrote requesting those on 15 November 2006. He again asked to them on 26 August 2009. They have not been provided yet.

CHAIR —What was the reason given for the lack of provision of that documentation?

Ms Davies —There were no reasons given while I was on PANMCC. All I know is that they said they would get back to us and they really did not think they had to release them. I started finding that Airservices was treating PANMCC as a clayton’s committee. It was just something to rubber stamp, to go through. We were not really consulted for anything. People would have to have been psychic to even know when they looked at that website, not because of the indecipherable scrawls on it but because of the fact that usually, when you get anything that comes up, you have time to go to the next PANMCC meeting and clarify any problems you have. No-one would have known. I do not see how they could possibly have known that this was a fait accompli and that this was the new air route. They were never given a heads-up and we were not given a heads-up all the way through.

There were other things we requested PANMCC to do. They put out a video and showed it to my council, against my advice to council because we had not had our meeting with ASA yet. They showed this video to council members, PANMCC requested that they edit it and then they requested certain editing changes because there were faults in it—it was not factual. They agreed to do it. As far as I know, they have never edited it and they have been using it to show to the general public for consultation.

CHAIR —Can I ask you to table those minutes that you are quoting from, if you wouldn’t mind?

Ms Davies —I am quoting from this one. Remember I have not been on the committee for half a year and I do not have the minutes for the other. I am telling you under oath, if you want to swear me in, that this is what happened.

Senator STERLE —So you have the date there with the questions and answers we were after?

Ms Davies —I have some of them here. The dates I have—and I have written it in notes if that is any help—will be in the minutes. If you want to subpoena the minutes from PANMCC, they will be in there. The other thing was that members previously would not have even realised—as everyone said, it was said that it would be 100 nautical miles away from the airport. Armadale was not even on the committee so they did not know. So there were other things. We also requested the CASA minutes. CASA never provided the outcomes of the safety report to PANMCC, and that was requested on 11 September 2009.

Senator BACK —Which one was that?

Ms Davies —That is the safety report that Airservices was relying on all the time. I take umbrage that we are not technically acutely aware of everything. The thing is that if you get a heads-up then you will become technically aware, and this just was not happening. Even when we asked for information we were not getting it. Those are just a few of the things; there is a lot more that went on. I found that we had to be very, very forceful with Airservices to even get their attention. I think the old saying is that you hit them over the head with a plank of wood to get their attention. There was a lot of work done by PANMCC and that is why they are now going out there and doing it after the fact. I just think this whole thing has been a mishmash. When you were asking all the mayors and other people what they thought they should do, how can anyone answer you when no-one has the information? You cannot just go out there and say, ‘I think you should do this.’ The other thing that we did request was some sort of a report on what negotiations they have done with the Air Force but nothing was forthcoming. As far as I know they are still waiting. I am no longer on the committee. All I am saying is that the review process states that there was no consultation. I think that Airservices has to really be looked into, because I do not know. Have they negotiated? They say they have with the Air Force. Have they got a safety report? They say they have. I know the senators fought to try to get that and it was just all blacked out and there were no safety recommendations for CASA. All I am saying is that I think it is time for another review and to put this aside, because we do not know.

Mrs Skeates —I have a few points. I just want to make a point on more of a personal level as a resident of Glen Forrest, and I hope to speak for some of the other residents, as someone who is now living underneath one of these flight paths. In fact, I am living underneath two flight paths, because we now have jets and non-jets coming over the top of us. I can also see the takeoff going up the Great Eastern Highway as well. The property that I bought in 2003, which the real estate agent had as ‘Listen to the quiet; live in peaceful beauty and serenity,’ has quite simply disappeared. I think you will find that that is something that is echoed throughout the hills: it has disappeared. We are woken up at one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock. We do not get the restful sleep period that is so crucial. I have a daughter who gets up and wanders around the house. It is time to go to school. How does it affect us? It affects us hugely. The real thing is looking back at the residents saying, ‘I was told you were consulted, when I contacted Airservices.’ Was I? How was I consulted? Nobody told me anything, but please do. They said they consulted me but I would love to know how. They told me that I had aircraft flying over my house, anyhow. I have lived there six years. I have had water bombers when there has been a fire but that is it. So that is my point of view. Main Roads came along recently and said to us that they had to make some changes in Midland. They contacted all of us. I am not even close enough to really be affected by that but their consultation model meant that they contacted all of us, and we were allowed to go back and make some recommendations or just give our viewpoint.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Do you get woken up every night?

Mrs Skeates —Yes, we get woken up regularly—not every night but regularly.

Senator HEFFERNAN —What time of the night?

Mrs Skeates —One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, four o’clock, five o’clock.

CHAIR —Do you want to add anything further?

Mrs Skeates —I think that is it. The crux of the matter for the people in the hills is that they bought a lifestyle and it is gone.

CHAIR —Okay. We have been waiting to get Mrs Renshaw on the telephone who is going to join us, but we might have to continue as it is taking a while. Senator Back.

Senator BACK —Ms Davies, PANMCC have now requested but not received from ASA an environmental report going back to 2006, a safety report from 2009 and the internal noise assessment, which has been previously referred to. Those three have not been available to the committee.

Ms Davies  —I do not know about the internal noise assessment. All I know that has been received is the environmental assessment.

Senator BACK —Mr Macpherson and others have mentioned it, but there are those three. Can anybody advise me as to what the consultation process was with the original WARRP? Was there a consultation process in advance of WARRP and, if so, with whom?

Ms Davies —What year are you talking about?

Senator BACK —When did WARRP come into existence? Mr Anderson?

Mr Anderson —It was introduced on 20 November 2008.

Senator BACK —Prior to it coming into existence, was there some form of public consultation or a process to share information?

Mr Anderson —According to Airservices, it was all done through PANMCC, their established consultation method.

Senator BACK —You were on PANMCC in 2007. Can you give us some advice on what this consultation process was through PANMCC?

Ms Davies —There was absolutely none. When I looked through my emails—and I take any committee I sit on seriously—and I found the first update I gave to my CEO and shire president was in April 2009. That was the first time I had heard about this and that was at the end of a PANMCC meeting.

Senator BACK —Six months after it had actually come into existence.

Ms Davies —I was not even aware that it had come into existence.

Senator BACK —But Mr Anderson correctly identified when it came into existence and my records also indicate 20 November.

Ms Davies —Yes, because the complaints started coming in to me about December.

Senator BACK —Mr Davies, can you take us through the process if somebody complains? What is the mechanism and the process, and where does the complaint go?

Mr Davies —As far as I am aware, the first point of contact is usually to ring the airport. Planes are coming from there, one would assume that is where you ring. The airport says, ‘You need to contact your shire or Airservices Australia, and you can do that by email or by phone, and by writing if you wish.’ Generally, I do it by email. The first one I did by phone. You get quite a reasonable reception from their noise inquiry unit. The people there are polite but they can offer no promise of change.

Senator BACK —‘They’ being Perth airport?

Mr Davies —This is an Airservices department.

Senator BACK —Your complaint gets directed to Airservices on a phone line?

Mr Davies —If you wish.

Senator BACK —Or to an email or whatever?

Mr Davies —Yes.

Senator BACK —We are now at Airservices?

Mr Davies —Yes. You are given a number if you ask for a number. It is not registered as a complaint unless you ask for it to be registered as a complaint.

Senator BACK —Are you invited to make that registration?

Mr Davies —I have not seen that happen. If you do not, it is just treated as an inquiry. I do not think it hits the noise statistics in that case. Then, periodically—I think it is every three months—

Ms Davies —That is right.

Mr Davies —Those results are tabulated with each complainant given a serial number—

Senator BACK —If they have asked to be registered?

Mr Davies —Yes, of course. They are tabulated by district and they are presented to the Perth airport noise management committee.

Senator BACK —Which has no power?

Mr Davies —It appears so.

Senator BACK —Why would Airservices Australia, which has a responsibility and an accountability to government, apart from informing PANMCC—what action gets taken once it goes to PANMCC?

Mr Davies —Mr Dudley discussed it broadly at one meeting when the Shire of Mundaring was looking to put in temporary noise monitors. He said broadly that they have a look at them and, if there is a problem with the airline, they will probably speak to them. I do not see any formal process there, though I believe that it would be helpful to have one—a process that gives us and the complainants the chance of some sort of outcome on a complaint.

Senator BACK —But I am still back at PANMCC, where these aggregated complaints have gone. What does PANMCC do with them?

Mr Davies —I do not know.

Senator BACK —Does it tick them off or does it agree with them or disagree with them or send them back to Airservices with a recommendation or a directive to do something? What happens to them?

Mr Davies —You will have to ask PANMCC.

Senator BACK —I will, but I was just wondering. From the viewpoint of a past PANMCC member, do you recall—

Ms Davies —No, I am the member; he is not.

Senator BACK —I am looking at you, Ms Davies.

Ms Davies —Sorry, I do not have my glasses on!

Senator BACK —In the time when you were on the committee, what happened when the agenda item got to the summary of complaints?

Ms Davies —Of course, you read that on the agenda item, and usually it was pretty low. I always look at my areas especially, and they were very low up until that time. And then I started putting in objections and asking that Airservices be notified or someone come and speak to us. I was not getting anywhere, so I started telling all my constituents to send me the email that they sent for their complaint to the communications centre, and then I started tabling those, requesting that they be noted and also be sent on to ASA to do something. We are a consultative committee. It was changed to a consultative committee.

Senator BACK —So, when ASA say that they send it to PANMCC, that washes their hands but PANMCC has no power to do anything?

Ms Davies —We started sending them back because I wanted something done.

Senator BACK —Due to the shortness of time, I only have two other questions. Mr Anderson, are you the gentleman that went along with Mr Daw to the meeting and was not allowed to—although you brought your fiddle to the party? Can you tell us what expertise you may have that you could have lent to or added to the exercise? I think Mr Daw said that you may have had some alternative routes that could have been considered.

Mr Anderson —Indeed, yes. I am an ex airline pilot or retired airline pilot with 38 years worldwide experience. I am familiar with all the procedures that go on here. I can read the charts. I can understand when people talk to me about technical matters. I drew some alternative procedures based on their new ones and then pressed to try and get them looked at. Airservices said, ‘Oh, yes, well, you must take them to PANMCC,’ and Dr Peter Cock said, ‘No, no, we can’t do anything.’ I carried on and pressed and I think John Daw pressed as well. Eventually they agreed that they would accept those, and Airservices asked for them, and I gave them to them.

Senator BACK —What happened to them?

Mr Anderson —Who knows, sir? I do not know. They have not notified me.

Senator HEFFERNAN —How long ago, roughly?

Mr Anderson —October of last year.

Senator BACK —So we could in fact ask Airservices today what might have happened to them.

Mr Anderson —They will tell you. Apparently—this is all hearsay, of course—they were discussed at PANMCC, at the meeting I was kicked out of.

Senator HEFFERNAN —And then flushed?

Mr Anderson —And binned, apparently.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Flushed, yes.

Mr Anderson —Flushed. But I have not been advised.

Senator BACK —This is my final question. You are the FairSkies group. What are your recommendations to this committee about what you would want to see as an outcome?

Mr Davies —We have actually prepared a list of things that we call things that need to be done to help alleviate some of the impact—what we consider to be an unfair environmental burden—on the residents of areas in the hills. I can go through them in detail or I can table them if you wish.

Senator BACK —I think tabling them might be better.

Mr Davies —I will just headline them.

Senator BACK —Perhaps you could give us some highlights, because other people want to ask questions.

Mr Davies —The list includes a review of WARRP, including a full safety and environmental review. But it is necessary that it should include a full and proper public consultation process. We feel that greater ministerial oversight is needed in our airspace and air route changes, particularly within the airport terminal control areas—which includes areas out as far as beyond Chidlow, in this case—and we feel that is required during any future airspace or air route change process. We would like to see principles similar to the environmental procedures for the minimising of impact noise—the Airservices document—enshrined in the appropriate legislation, and that is notwithstanding the primacy of safety. Such procedures should give full and due consideration to the impact on the environment and public amenity.

The aircraft noise complaint process is a dead-end process as it is now. It should include mechanisms to enable positive action for outcome changes on behalf of the complainants if they are required. On noise impacts far from the airport boundary: recognition is desperately needed in the appropriate agencies that aircraft noise can be a significant problem at locations beyond the limits of the ANEF-ANEI corridors, particularly when elevated terrain to the east of the airport makes the establishment of arrival and departure routes problematic, as we have seen. Operations of aircraft outside of the normal route structures, the so-called short-cutting clearance to way point, do cause unexpected noise in places not usually subject to aircraft overflights.

The ASA public consultation model obviously needs a lot of work. I think I will leave it to others to discuss that one. On the continuous descent approach, we feel that there may be opportunities to place ‘not below’ altitudes on many arrival routes over the Perth Hills that would ensure that we do not see these low-flying aircraft, as in the example I gave in my introduction. It may be that that conflicts with ‘not above’ routes in other places, but we leave that to Airservices. They are the experts; let them figure it out, but stop the aircraft flying so low and so close to our homes.

On the relocation of Perth Airport: again, the calculation of the costs and benefits should naturally include the potential value to be realised by the subsequent sale of the existing airport land. Potentially that is billions of dollars, and that is not factored in when it is said that it is so costly to move this airport. Let us put that on the table too.

On facility sharing at Pearce air base: a number of airbases around the country already carry out such sharing. The fly-in fly-outs would be a start there.

On a night-time curfew at Perth Airport, as in place at other national airports, we understand that there are a lot of things to consider in that, but it should not just focus on the economic impact. It should also consider equally the effects on the environment and public amenity.

I do not know if this is the forum, but we also seek to have a FairSkies representative on the Perth Airport community consultative committee.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Congratulations. That is the sort of stuff I have been wanting to hear all day.

Mr Davies —There is more.

Senator BACK —I am finished, Chair, thank you.

Mr Davies —There is more, Senator Heffernan, if you wish.

CHAIR —Just before I go to Senator Sterle, Mrs Renshaw, I do apologise; we will try and rectify the technical issues so we can hear from you as well, as best we can. We do apologise.

Senator STERLE —I just want to clarify one thing. From a New South Wales senator—it is great to have him here, but, in all honesty, we can all say things out of our jurisdictions and get a clap at the end of the day. With the greatest of respect—and I sympathise with the people in the hills—

0Senator Heffernan interjecting

Senator STERLE —I really sympathise, and I live under the Jandakot air—

0Senator Heffernan interjecting

—I am happy to take it outside and finish the conversation, Senator Heffernan.

CHAIR —For the benefit of those here, we will utilise the time we have available properly. You two can discuss what you choose to discuss later. Continue your questions, Senator Sterle.

Senator STERLE —With the greatest respect, so that this does not get statements out in the media, we understand that the air traffic in Perth is going to get worse. It is going to get busier. I would hate to make statements thinking that something is going to happen, but with the airport curfew—which would be fantastic for the people living in the hills—there are a lot of things that just are not realistically going to happen. I think that is just something we need to clarify. But I really want to ask Mr Anderson, as a pilot, since I do not have the technical intelligence that you do: you did say that Airservices Australia were hiding under the cloak of safety?

Mr Anderson —Behind the cloak of safety.

Senator STERLE —And I think we really need to explore that a lot further so that a lot of us who do not have the background knowledge you do can get a grip on what you actually mean by that.

Mr Anderson —I am pleased that you have raised it. In my submission I said that I feel that Airservices Australia has grossly misled the community regarding the necessity of WARRP. They have always maintained in answer to all sorts of questions that it was required for safety reasons raised in the CASA audit. This is one of the documents they said they would produce to PANMCC and still have not. Judi Moylan MP applied for this under Freedom of Information and I have a copy of it here, which I believe Councillor Daw tabled earlier. Under the Freedom of Information a copy of this audit was obtained, and the only safety issues raised refer to the runway 03 instrument landing system procedures and two RCAs. This is a request for corrective action where raised. It was in 2003 and Airservices Australia has been hiding behind that cloak of safety ever since. Here we have the report, a 10-page report, and seven of the pages are blanked out because they do not refer to the question that was asked. Judi Moylan asked for the report on the basis of the safety factors, and seven of the 10 pages have got nothing on them and the other three have got very small items. So it is not true what they say.

Senator STERLE —When did Mrs Moylan ask those questions?

Mr Anderson —Sometime before 19 November 2009. This is the reply and it is dated 19 November, so it must have been sometime before that.

Senator STERLE —You do not have the time when those questions were asked.

Mr Anderson —I probably do but I cannot find them.

Senator STERLE —That is fine. Why the heck in your opinion would Airservices Australia completely tip upside down aircraft approach routes? Is it just to annoy the people of the hills and the beach—

Mr Anderson —I do not think they are that small-minded.

Senator STERLE —What is your view?

Mr Anderson —It was necessary. There had to be some change. It was a dog’s breakfast. I flew out of Perth for seven years—

Senator STERLE —A dog’s breakfast in which way?

Mr Anderson —The route structure was not terribly efficient, and I will admit this straight away. What they did was enclose Perth in a 36 nautical mile ring and these were exit and entry points to the Perth area, if you like. They established all those, then they looked at models for departure and arrival routes from the airport to those points and from those points to the airport. These are the things we have problems with. These need to be reassessed and replanned, because some of them are not efficient. There is one particular departure off runway 2/1, the RAVON 2 departure from runway 2/1 for non-jet aircraft, and it is overloaded every morning. It cannot cope with the volumes of traffic. You have only got to sit and look at the WebTrak replay and these things are diving all over the place. None of them are following the route. The nearest point on that route is over nine kilometres from my house and invariably I get traffic off that route overflowing me at half past four in the morning.

Senator STERLE —This is because of the intensity of the traffic?

Mr Anderson —Correct. This has been a problem in air traffic many years. I worked in the UK for 15 years and we saw how they dealt with it then, but I do not think anybody has consulted anybody else. We are reinventing the wheel or the submarine or whatever they do, rather than look at procedures that may be going on overseas to sequence air traffic.

Senator STERLE —What I am trying to decipher is that there is a view that, okay, there is a great increase in airport traffic. We all know that. No-one is arguing that. It is not going to go away. We also know that there are issues with defence airspace out there at Pearce and Jandakot down south. These are all issues that add up to it?

Mr Anderson —To a point. In the video, which I was hoping Airservices were going to provide for you—in fact, they told me they had provided the video for you; last week I asked them for six copies so that I could give them to you—

CHAIR —They may have provided them with the papers. We will check.

Mr Anderson —It will not be here until this afternoon. I wanted it here this morning, but Airservices emailed me and said, ‘We’ve done it,’ but they have not. In their video they have been disingenuous, shall we say, in the way they have represented things. In the airspace reservations around Perth—the red airspace; I have copies of this which I would be happy to distribute to the committee—

CHAIR —You could table that. Thank you, Mr Anderson.

Mr Anderson —I have six copies here. I must apologise for the small size of the pages; I only have an A4 printer. When one looks at this map—it is a screen shot from the Airservices video, which is arriving this afternoon—the marked red area is restricted or unavailable airspace. It is on the last page. In essence, this is true, but in fact a lot of this airspace is only activated occasionally by NOTAM, which is Notices to Airmen. Very little of it is permanent and a lot of it does not exceed a height of 2,000 feet above mean sea level, which means it can be overflown at all times. In the video it is not portrayed like that; it is portrayed as restricted or unavailable. That is the slant. This is what I was saying about disingenuousness. I feel that this is disingenuous; it is not presented truly. It is presented and what they say is correct, but they are being economical with the truth.

Also on the video they show a departure route. I think it is on page 1 of the paper you have, entitled ‘Jet departures to the north’. They say that route is the jet departure route to the north from runways 03 and 06. Then they go on to say, ‘There has been no change to this route in the metropolitan area.’ This is not true. That route—the Clackline 8 departure—was used previously. This is the one that somebody from Airservices wrote to me about, saying, ‘Oh no, there’s no change to that routing.’ That is incorrect.

Senator STERLE —How long ago was that response?

Mr Anderson —That was in August.

Senator STERLE —Last year?

Mr Anderson —Yes. It is in my submission. As I said, the bloke did not know what he was talking about. It was fairly obvious that he did not. He was replying to me on behalf of the minister. They perpetuated this nonsense in the video. They told people, ‘Oh no, this doesn’t—

Senator STERLE —I am sorry, Mr Anderson, but we are running out of time. The chair has just reminded me. I will wrap this up with a last question, if I may, Chair. Is it the view of FairSkies that there is still a need for flight paths to be changed that will encroach on your residential areas, but that there are ways around it without changing those routes?

Mr Anderson —There are no ways around it without changing the routes. They must be altered.

Senator STERLE —I fully understand.

CHAIR —Mrs Renshaw, do we have you with us now?

Mrs Renshaw —I can hear you fine. The difficulty seems to have been that you were not able to hear me.

CHAIR —It is quite difficult. Would you like to make a brief statement about your position?

Mrs Renshaw —I live at 5 Vernon Avenue in Mundaring, and I operate a business called Core Luxury Retreat. We purchased it in about 1997 or 1998 and have spent about $1½ million turning it into a luxury retreat. If you look at our website, we have plenty of words like ‘recreation’, ‘rest’, ‘rejuvenation’, ‘peace’ and ‘tranquillity’, and that is what we offer. People come here for a getaway for peace.

I am afraid I cannot offer anything other than a personal and business perspective on what you are discussing, as distinct from the learned gentlemen that have understanding of the routes et cetera. All I can tell you is that, sheerly by realising that we were being woken up in the middle of the night and then starting to get comments from guests, we were alerted to the fact that there were more flights coming over, and then they started to become intrusive. I too have a litany of phone calls to Airservices Australia, in which we were being very pleasantly acknowledged but getting absolutely nowhere. Back in, I think, September of 2008-09, I eventually went back to them and said: ‘Thank you for acknowledging my complaint many months ago, but I haven’t got anywhere. What’s happened?’ They put me on to a councillor at Mundaring council. When I followed that through, I found that that councillor had not had anything to do with it for over two years. So I, in my small way, also kept finding dead ends in terms of complaining.

My great fear in all of this is that the whole community here bought their properties without this thing running over their heads 24 hours a day, and we bought as tree changers. It is an area where people have bought for peace and recreation—more so than when you buy in the city or areas like Guildford that you know are already covered by heavy air traffic. The problem for me is that I have now invested millions in a business where I am offering rest, peace, recreation and tranquillity, and I do not offer that anymore, so I am deeply concerned that my property values have diminished, or will, and that my business is going to have problems. That is based on this: if it is pretty unbearable now when we are reaching passenger numbers that were projected only for 2015, what on earth is it going to be like as the mining boom hits and Perth naturally grows? It is damaging my business now when guests comment that it is a shame about the aircraft in the middle of the night or when the aircraft have become quite excessive at the beginning of the week or early in the morning, from five o’clock onwards. What is it going to be like in the future? As I have a husband dying of cancer, I am not in much of a position to change things, so it becomes an extra worry which I could well do without.

I do not know the answers. I am not able to suggest new runways and new alternatives, but I think it is an extremely dubious decision to put it over an area that is known for its peace and tranquillity, its tourism, its history and its alternative lifestyle. Strategically, that just does not seem to make good sense to me.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mrs Renshaw. We very much appreciate your submission. While we understand that you might not be technical, it is really important that we understand how this is impacting on the residents. It seems that, through no fault of your own, your ability to operate your business under those circumstances has changed significantly.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Thanks very much for that. You might go into the noise insulation business instead of pink batts. Does this noise that irritates you and your guests have the capacity to wake you up and make you say, ‘What was that?’ and that sort of thing, like a dog barking? Does it wake you up?

Mrs Renshaw —Yes, it does wake us up.

Senator HEFFERNAN —We were given evidence this morning that that has a long-term health effect on people. This has suddenly been imposed on you with no consultation?

Mrs Renshaw —Absolutely, totally. Guests are paying $400 a night for peace and tranquillity. I would be pretty unhappy if I had paid $400 a night and got woken up during the night with low-flying aircraft. I have to say, it is the smaller ones for us that cause the really loud noise—the smaller, propeller ones, not the big aircraft, which seemed to fly higher. They cut the property at various different angles—directly over the guest cottage areas, at the outer edge. The property is 17½ acres, and they seem to come at it from a whole pile of different directions.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Do you feel powerless to do something about this? Have you approached your local member and the local government and the state and federal governments and they have all told you to go and bite yourself?

Mrs Renshaw —No. I physically went and saw Judi Moylan, who has been active and has been very good in keeping us up to date with letters about what they are doing. You have to be very persistent, though. As I said, with Airservices Australia I had to go back to them months later. They eventually gave me the name of a councillor to approach, who had not been involved with it for two years. They eventually put me on to Sharon Davies. The end result of all of my efforts, which have been not insignificant over the last 12 months, has been a complete dead end. The feeling that you are left with is that it is pretty much a fait accompli and you cannot do anything about it. That is quite frustrating, as things are bound to get worse. They have to get worse as the mining boom increases and the population increases. If everything were left as it is, this area would have to change totally.

Senator HEFFERNAN —This is the big chance to do something about it. I flew in last night and I said to a bloke at the airport, ‘How do they get away with this?’ He said, ‘It gets busier from here on tonight.’ I said, ‘How come there’s no curfew? How come there’s no insulation?’ He said, ‘There hasn’t been a big enough fuss made.’ So now is the time to make a fuss. I have got a letter here from a Marlene and Charles Wilson, whose complaint sounds like familiar territory for you. It is regarding their concern about the increase in air traffic noise which has been imposed on them at Waterford, Perth. Of particular concern is the excessive noise of flights between 11 pm and six am. Yes, it is time to do something.

Ms Davies —I was wondering if I could table this. This was a PowerPoint presentation given to PANMCC developed by John Macpherson. It is about aircraft noise and health. It might just help you put in place the decibels and what it causes.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Do you know anywhere else in Australia where aircraft noise is allowed to wake people up all through the night?

Ms Davies —To the best of my knowledge, everyone else has a curfew.

Senator O’BRIEN —No.

Ms Davies —I said ‘to the best of my knowledge’.

Senator HEFFERNAN —That was not my question, whether there was a curfew. There are industrial corridors et cetera. In Canberra, if they cannot afford the Tralee development—

CHAIR —We will do that on another day, Senator.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Ms Davies, do you know anywhere where people actually have to put up with being woken up all through the night?

CHAIR —She just answered that question. I think Ms Davies said, to the best of her knowledge, no.

Senator O’BRIEN —Ms Davies, I asked a question about this earlier. Mr Macpherson’s submission talks about his experience on the PANMCC in relation to the consultation in that committee about the WARRP. Were you on that committee when that consultation took place?

Ms Davies —I did not go onto the committee until 2007.

Senator O’BRIEN —So that consultation had concluded before you became a member of that committee?

Ms Davies —If there was any consultation. I actually went back through all the records—that is what I did, to find out exactly what was going on—and I could not find any.

Senator O’BRIEN —Mr Macpherson says there was. It is in his submission.

Ms Davies —Does he?

Senator O’BRIEN —Yes. Whether he is satisfied with the consultation is a different thing, but I do not think it would be a fair representation of the facts to say there was not a consultation within that committee. But you are not aware of that?

Ms Davies —Not at all, and it did not come up in my—

Senator O’BRIEN —You have looked at the minutes and you have come to the conclusion that there was not a consultation?

Ms Davies —That is right. Oh, I know what it was. It was just a few appraisals or information from ASA to the committee, if that is what you call a consultation—and that is what ASA seems to call a consultation.

Senator O’BRIEN —A few. I need to understand what you understood to take place from your review of the minutes.

Ms Davies —What I understood to take place was that ASA—I think it was in 2004 as well—told the committee that any changes would be 100 nautical miles away from the Perth Airport. Then in 2006 or 2007—I am not sure—it was 50 to 60 kilometres from the airport. That was pretty much the consultation. The track changes were not shown until April 2009.

Senator O’BRIEN —Mr Macpherson says that in this consultation they were given ‘a spaghetti of flight paths with cryptic descriptive notes, overlaid on a map that did not show landmarks’ et cetera. So there was clearly some consultation about a change in flight paths.

Ms Davies —Your use of the word ‘consultation’ is questionable. What they did, according to all of my records, is state: ‘It’s now on the website. We have some flight track changes which are still being considered by PANMCC to be preliminary.’ The other thing that PANMCC requested was that they start putting on the map the names of suburbs where the flight tracks were. They still have not done it. I also talked to the planner from Kalamunda, and he was also given that. He was beating himself up because he had not realised that these were actually changes made. No-one did. From the way that it was presented, you would have had to have been psychic to know that they were already in place. That is what that was. That ‘spaghetti’ was already in place. If I had seen that come up on a website, I would have taken it to my next PANMCC meeting for clarification. But it was already being done; it was already in place.

Senator O’BRIEN —I do not think it was at the time referred to by Mr Macpherson—but that is a different question.

Ms Davies —Sorry. Okay. That was in November.

Senator O’BRIEN —The question I asked of Mr Macpherson in relation to prior the completion of the WARRP review was: did people ask for an overlay? Did people ask where the flight paths—

Ms Davies —I can give you the dates of when it was requested—

Senator O’BRIEN —You were not there so—

Ms Davies —No. I am talking about when I was on it.

Senator O’BRIEN —Yes. But I said that you cannot give us evidence about what took place beforehand. I am just relating the evidence that Mr Macpherson gave earlier today. I was really interested in knowing what your experience was and whether you were there at that time. You have made it clear that you were not. So thank you for that.

Ms Davies —It was like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That is what it was.

Senator O’BRIEN —That is a work of fiction.

Ms Davies —No, it’s not—I wish.

Senator ADAMS —I would like to ask a question of all of you about real estate prices, given that we have just had evidence regarding the retreat. Can you give me any evidence that the price of real estate that is under these flight paths has changed?

Mrs Skeates —I guess the only evidence that I can give is from my own point of view. If I were to buy my property now, I would not buy 20 acres on a flight path. I bought 20 acres for a lifestyle, not a flight path. Pricewise, I would not pay what I paid.

Senator ADAMS —Mr Anderson, as far as these prices—

Mrs Renshaw —I would like to add to that. This has only reared its head since 2008. It has taken us all of this while to get together to form groups and to find out that it is not just us. It is not common knowledge yet, but it certainly will become in time. It is like Guildford. Everybody knows that when you buy into Guildford you have got major flight paths over the top of it and major jets flying low, and that is considered in the real estate prices. If it has not affected that now, it certainly will. My concern is not only selling the property with a flight path over it but trying to sell a business that was predicated on rest and recreation. With a flight path now over the top of it, it would be a joke.

Senator ADAMS —Thank you, Mrs Renshaw.

Mrs Renshaw —I think it is fair to ask the question: is there a 10 per cent drop already? But, by the time this gets out and becomes public knowledge and, god forbid, it starts to be exacerbated tenfold, there is no doubt it would. People are not going to buy into an area for rest and recreation where you are woken up in the middle of the night by aircraft noise.

Senator ADAMS —Mr Anderson, I would like to talk to you about the flexibility of the pilot’s option where, with these flight paths, they have certain ones but, if there is a lot of traffic or the pilot decides they really want to go in a little bit lower or a little bit higher, they can do that in that area.

Mr Anderson —Basically, under instrument flight rules, which the traffic out of Perth is using, they get a clearance. If you look at page 3 of the piece of paper I submitted, there is a procedure on there. You can see highlighted in the right-hand corner the AMANA ONE (jet) RNAV departure. On the left-hand side, you can see the two runways at Perth. A pilot is given a clearance. Say that runway 03 is in use—that is the runway that goes north-south—and they are departing from the south towards the north. The pilot will be given a clearance—to Sydney via wherever—with the AMANA ONE departure. That means that they take off from the runway and bear 016; they fly that track up to Midland, or MIDLA. They then turn right on a track of 087 to ALWYN and then they turn left, 079, out to AMANA. That is where that 36-mile ring I mentioned earlier is. Once they are given that clearance, they cannot deviate from it unless they are instructed to by air traffic or they request a deviation and have it approved. Otherwise they cannot deviate.

The next page is the RAVON ONE (non-jet) departure. This is the one that I said was overloaded. They take off on, say, runway 21. They track 196 down to this point that says ‘1,000 feet but not before the departure end of the runway’. They turn left to track direct to SOKAL. Then they are supposed to go to Chidlow and out to RAVON, which once again is at the 36-mile ring. But they take off and get just past 1,000 feet, and they are going in all directions because they are directed so to do by air traffic. But they cannot choose to do that themselves. They are under instrument flight rules. They must obey what they are told.

Also, there are sometimes altitude constraints on departures. On the previous one, the AMANA ONE, if you look down to the south here it says ‘BAMIL at or above 8,000 feet’ and ‘Helena at or above flight level 120’, which is effectively 12,000 feet. So there are constraints put on them, and they cannot just go where they want. You can ask for a track change for weather or you can be given one by air traffic, but you cannot just do what you like.

As far as the actual heights and altitudes go, if you go back to this AMANA ONE (jet) departure, departing to the north via Midland and ALWYN, there are no height restrictions on that at all, so pilots could be at any height that they can make on that route. That depends on aircraft weight and things of that nature—whether they have a headwind. They will climb fast over the ground, but you cannot quantify it empirically here and now; it depends so much on circumstances. They will just have to follow that track. Does that clarify your—

Senator ADAMS —No, it does not.

Mr Anderson —Sorry.

Senator ADAMS —I will admit now that I live up in the hills just to the west of Gidgegannup. When I first moved up there a year ago, the flights were more towards Mundaring, but it is quite amazing that now they are coming over. We have quite a big lake, and the noise that is coming seems to come up off the lake. All the neighbours are complaining. When I fly backwards and forwards, one night we are over the top of our place, the next time we come in we are just over Mundaring and the next time we are just out to the north again. The small aircraft are coming in in the morning and the freighters are coming in at four o’clock in the morning; I can tell you the whole list of them as they come. I was just wondering why there seems to be a lot of deviation in the tracks that they are using.

Mr Anderson —I beg your pardon; I thought you were referring to outbound aircraft.

Senator ADAMS —No, it is more when they are coming in.

Mr Anderson —Airservices produced a chart that showed tracks of inbound aircraft onto runway 24, which would be flying over your house, that normally track via Beverley. The aircraft are supposed to follow this track, but air traffic tell them to go direct to Beacon or somewhere or direct to SPUDO, which is a waypoint on the way, and they are coming at it from all directions. These clearances are probably asked for; I used to ask for clearances like that when I flew, but it is up to air traffic to approve these clearances. Pilots cannot just go where they want to; they must ask for the clearances and be given them before they can track direct to a point. But that is why they come from all sorts of directions. Does that answer your question?

Senator ADAMS —Yes, it does. Thanks for that. I was beginning to think that there was something going a bit wrong.

CHAIR —Thank you, Senator Adams. Mrs Renshaw, thank you for joining us. I know it has been difficult by teleconference, but we do appreciate your evidence and you giving us your time. We will have to pull up now. Would you like to make a final comment, Mr Davies?

Mr Davies —Yes. We believe there are a number of inaccuracies in the DVD presentation that Airservices has shown to the community. Rather than spend time here going through each one, we have prepared a set of questions on notice for some of those.

CHAIR —Could you table those, Mr Davies.

Senator ADAMS —We have them already.

CHAIR —Yes, Mrs Skeates?

Mrs Skeates —The FairSkies website has had over 700 hits on it, so there is a concerned community out there. I just wanted to get that across so that you know that people are starting to react. I think it will just grow. The actual number of people actually visiting the website is in the region of 360 to 370, and they are on the website for an average of four minutes at a time. In website speak, that is quite a long time, so people are on there researching the new flight paths.

CHAIR —Thanks for that, Mrs Skeates. Thank you all very much.

Proceedings suspended from 12.03 pm to 12.25 pm