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Wednesday, 12 April 1989
Page: 1489

(Question No. 410)

Senator McLean asked the Minister representing the Minister for Telecommunications and Aviation Support, upon notice, on 1 June 1988:

(1) Were local councils consulted, when new aviation regulations were imposed in 1985, and were any environmental impact studies carried out.

(2) Were these regulations referred to the then Department of Arts, Heritage and Environment for study under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposal) Act; if not, why not.

(3) Are there any controls on noise levels of propeller aircraft, helicopters and airships over the Sydney metropolitan area; if so, what are the maximum levels, at what hours do they apply, and how do these levels compare with allowable jet aircraft levels.

(4) Are propeller aircraft frequently directed to fly over Cremorne and Neutral Bay in Sydney, even late at night and very early in the morning.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Telecommunications and Aviation Support has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) On 20 December 1984 an Aeronautical Information Circular was issued notifying changes to the airspace in the Sydney Control Zone. The changes became effective on 4 July 1985. This change in airspace was introduced in order to allow for the non-controlled operation of helicopters and float planes over certain areas of Sydney. While local Councils have been and continue to be consulted on issues associated with the Civil Aviation Regulations, they were not consulted in the development of this particular proposal. The then Department of Aviation assessed the environmental aspects of the proposal. The Department's assessment included the change in noise level, pollution, safety and the hours of operation on the routes.

(2) The proposal was not required to be referred to the then Department of Arts, Heritage and Environment, as the assessment by the then Department of Aviation concluded that the proposal was not environmentally significant.

(3) The Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations require that all aircraft made in, or imported into, Australia satisfy the appropriate requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Annex 16, Volume I, ``Aircraft Noise''. Apart from this requirement there are no specific rules or regulations that restrict aircraft noise emissions over the Sydney metropolitan area.

Civil Aviation Regulation 157 requires that an aircraft shall not fly over a city, town or populous area at a lower height than 1500 feet, or over any other area at a lower height than 500 feet, except in specified circumstances.

Environmental assessments of noise levels have been undertaken by the Civil Aviation Authority in relation to helicopters and airships. The Authority has indicated that if operated in accordance with their directions the degree of noise from helicopters and airships would not be comparable with the much louder noise levels of jet aircraft and, in general, would not have a significant impact on the environment.

The noise reduction strategy recently introduced at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport has considerably reduced the use of flight paths to the north, east and west of the airport between 11 pm and 6 am by all aircraft types. After 1 January 1990 the only propeller driven aircraft permitted to use the airport during these curfew hours will be those meeting new international noise certification standards.

(4) Pilots of propeller-driven aircraft may ask permission to fly over Cremorne and Neutral Bay. These requests are normally granted. There are also occasions when Air Traffic Control may direct an aircraft to fly over these areas. During the late night and early morning, care is taken to ensure that aircraft do not unnecessarily overfly Cremorne or Neutral Bay.