The Department of Defence today released a revised aircraft noise map for RAAF Base Williamtown which promises an improved outlook for local residents, the Deputy Chief of Air Force has announced.
Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Geoff Brown and Mr David Broyd (Manager Sustainable Planning, Port Stephens Council) said the new noise map – although still a concept map – is the culmination of 12 months of consultations between Defence, state and local authorities, community groups and individuals regarding the introduction of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) at RAAF Base Williamtown in 2017.
Senator David Feeney, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, welcomed the release of the new noise map. “At the election, Labor pledged to replace the current noise Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) by the end of this year. This new map fufills that promise.”
“Williamtown is one of the RAAF’s key installations, and both it and the Salt Ash Weapons Range play a vital role in Australia’s defence. The government is aware that aircraft noise is an issue for communities around Williamtown and Salt Ash, and will continue to work with local communities to reduce noise exposure as much as possible.”
“Following an accelerated review of Air Force’s proposed JSF training activities, Air Force announced earlier this year that it would halve the JSF’s projected use of the Salt Ash Air Weapons Range. A concept map released on 17 May 2010 resulted in a significantly reduced number of potentially affected properties around the Range,” AVM Brown said.
In subsequent discussions with the Port Stephens Council, Defence agreed to also assess all options to mitigate aircraft noise closer to RAAF Base Williamtown.
“This latest concept map takes into account the reconfiguring of instrument approach systems and aircraft approaches to and from RAAF Base Williamtown. In good news for adjacent communities, this has resulted in a contraction of the noise contours in some areas to the north-west of the base,” said AVM Brown.
“Defence’s assessment of the cost and operational impact of extending the Williamtown runway is, however, ongoing. A runway extension is yet to be factored into the concept map,“ explained AVM Brown.
Following completion of further modelling, Defence plans to consolidate the concept maps into a new 2025 Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (2025 ANEF) map for endorsement by the end of 2010 to replace the 2025 ANEF promulgated in October 2009,” AVM Brown said.
“Release of the latest concept map is welcomed as it provides updated information to Port Stephens Council as it works to implement its planning and development guidelines,” said Mr Broyd.
“It comes after extensive negotiations between Defence and Council to achieve a fairer outcome for local residents.”
“With still seven years to the JSF’s arrival, the public consultations in late 2009 marked the beginning, not the end, of public consultation on JSF’s introduction,” AVM Brown stressed.
Defence is yet to formally refer JSF’s introduction to the Environment Minister under the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. Once referred, Defence expects the Environment Minister will require a further formal environmental study to be undertaken and this study will involve further public consultation.
“Assessment under the EPBC Act may result in further amendments to the 2025 ANEF sometime in the future,” explained AVM Brown.
Further comment: Dr Adam Carr in Senator Feeney’s office: 02 6277 3415
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
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