Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Strong restrictions on Capertee Helipad approval gives relief to local residents but not for wilderness areas

“Tuesday's Court approval of a helipad for joy flights at Capertee west of the Blue Mountains has placed strong restrictions on this noisy operation. Despite these restrictions, wilderness and national parks will be subjected to the greatest impacts,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The failure to protect wilderness areas and national parks from aircraft noise requires a legislative remedy to preserve the natural quiet in these precious areas,” Mr Muir said.

“We are, however, pleased with the efforts by the Lithgow City Council and the Capertee Environmental Protection Group that reduced the potential noise impacts from the helicopter joy flight proposal. The proposal was reduced from a heliport to a helipad,” he said.

“The Court restricted the joy flights to one operator using a fairly small helicopter. A maximum of 20 flights per day are permitted and only 7 flights a day on the one flight route. In addition, consent operates for only five years,” said Mr Muir

“Unfortunately the Court failed to address the topographic issues associated with flying in the Capertee Valley,” he said.

“The Court order that the joy flights operate at 1,500 feet means the joy flights can operate below the cliffs of the Airly-Genowlan mesa in the middle of the Valley. Flights at 2,000 feet above a national park translate to flying at cliff top height along the escarpments of the Capertee Valley. This is a bad and unintended outcome,” he said.

“The Colong Foundation does not accept the Court finding that noise impact levels in wilderness areas are acceptable given these topographic circumstances,“ said Mr Muir.

“Wilderness, national parks and other remote natural areas of high scenic quality are most at risk because these are areas of peace and quiet. It is precisely these areas that will be subjected to the greatest noise impacts from the joy flight operations,” he said.

For more information contact Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)