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A good night's sleep for Brisbane

Excessive flight noise from air traffic has been a problem for many Brisbane residents since the opening of an additional runway at the privately-owned Brisbane Airport in July 2020.

The Greens have been campaigning to introduce caps on the number of flights per hour and implement an overnight curfew, similar to regulations in place for Sydney and Adelaide airports.

However, AirServices Australia and the Brisbane Airport Corporation have refused these reasonable measures, saying it will impact profitability of the airport.

In February 2024, thanks to a strong campaign by Brisbane community members, the Greens secured a Senate inquiry into aircraft noise

You can read the joint submission written by myself, and fellow Greens MPs Elizabeth Watson-Brown and Max Chandler-Mather here.

As a privatised entity, BAC exists to maximise profits. This negatively impacts Brisbane residents, small businesses, and schools, with little oversight from regulators or the Federal Government. Airservices Australia has consistently sided with BAC over local residents' concerns.

Brisbane Airport has one of the worst noise abatement plans in the developed world. Unlike Sydney Airport, it has no curfew and prioritises profit over the well-being of Brisbane residents and the environment. BAC is exempt from state-level noise pollution laws, highlighting the need for national legislation to regulate aircraft noise.

BAC has an aggressive plan for growth, aiming to become a major freight airport. Analysis by the Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance predicts over 110 flight movements per hour by 2035, exceeding traffic at Sydney or Melbourne Airports and rivalling major international airports like Singapore or Hong Kong. This unchecked growth will worsen the impact on residents.Successive Labor and LNP governments at state and federal levels have done nothing to stop or reign-in this private corporation.

A 2021 survey of 2000 Brisbane residents found that 81% had their sleep disrupted by flight noise, 68% suffered from mental distress, and 11% sought medical help. This is unacceptable, and I will continue to fight to prioritise people over corporate profit.

The Greens have urged the Transport Minister to direct Airservices Australia to use both runways over the water when safe, subject to Airspace Advisory Board approval. This involves using the 'SODPROPs' mode, meaning one runway for departures and the other for arrivals over water. This change will significantly increase flights taking off and landing over water, as originally promised, but was “quietly dropped” in 2018 without community consultation.

This disregard of residents has led to a growing community campaign, including a large protest and the introduction of the Greens' flight noise bill calling for flight caps, a night-time curfew, and more flights over water. The Government must now report on the share of flights over water and explain why SODPROPs can't be used when applicable, allowing the community to hold the airport accountable.

Recently, under questioning from Greens Senator Janet Rice, Airservices Australia admitted their noise reduction trial was a sham. The trial used the full runway for all flights over the city, but height markers for calculating climb trajectories weren't changed, so pilots had no reason to climb higher than usual, resulting in no noticeable noise reduction.

The Greens have requested a new trial and an explanation from Airservices Australia.

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