Brisbane communities are no stranger to aircraft noise and the way it intrudes on our lives. Going back to the 1990s, there have been community-led protests over aircraft noise and its impacts to health, wellbeing, and people’s right to peaceful enjoyment of their homes.
So, when Brisbane Airport Corporation announced its plans to build a second runway way back in the early 2000s, communities under Brisbane’s existing flight paths were skeptical, but cautiously optimistic that it may bring some relief.
In fact, people that I have spoken to who are affected by the new runway have told me that “relief” was the primary message from Brisbane Airport Corporation’s community engagement - don’t worry, most flights will go over the bay and you won’t hear much at all.
But, thousands in the community were blindsided when planes started flying over their homes at low altitudes in July of 2020 when the new flight paths came on line after the new parallel runway was opened.
In previously quiet suburbs like New Farm, Ascot, Hamilton, Spring Hill, communities are living with aircraft noise that can exceed 90 decibels (or as loud as a lawnmower right next to you) every three minutes during peak times.
These communities tell me the government, Airservices Australia and Brisbane Airport Corporation failed them during the community consultation process for Brisbane’s new flight paths and runway. This isn’t about being anti-development, it’s about making sure communities affected by developments have a real say in the decisions which will impact their lives.
So what can we do?
- I support Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance’s (BFPCA) call for a new Environmental Impact Statement process to be undertaken that explores better noise mitigation strategies and potential better flight paths
- We must overhaul the regulatory environment to ensure better protections and access to resolutions for communities forced to live with aircraft noise
- We must reform Airservices Australia and reinstate it as a public regulator. Since its corporatisation in 1997, it has ceased to function as regulator and has a vested in interest in achieving maximum capacity for airports as it relies on levies from airlines - and maximum capacity is how they make mega-profits.
- I further support bringing Brisbane Airport back into public ownership. The airport is an enormous piece of infrastructure and needs to be democratically accountable to the community. A private airport is accountable solely to its investors, not the people.
But further, we must reduce the broader burden of air travel on our environment. In 2016, aircraft emission accounted for around 17 per cent of all transport related emissions in Australia. And the Australian Government has projected that aircraft emissions will grow on average by 2.2 per cent per annum out to 2034-354.
In 2019 the Greens announced their plan to fund a publicly owned version of a high speed rail network along the east coast of Australia.
Via high speed rail, the travel time between Brisbane and Sydney would be 2hrs and 37min. While the current flight travel time is 1hr 30min, once you take into account security and check in – they are pretty similar.
In the meantime, I will continue working with the community and groups like BFPCA who have been unfairly impacted by the new runway and its flight paths to achieve better outcomes. We must fight for a system that strikes the balance between the crucial need for an economically stimulating aviation industry and the need of airport host cities to peacefully enjoy their homes free from excessive aircraft noise.