The casting vote of Airport Advisory Committee chairman Tom Tuffin passed a raft of alternative recommendations for the future planning of Busselton airport.
In a committee meeting on last Tuesday night, expected to form a basis for a major announcement about the airport’s future, staff recommendations for noise contours to be used for land use planning were challenged.
In the committee’s agenda, council CEO Mike Archer said the recommendations were designed to make the existing airport commercially viable and well managed and took into consideration noise issues.
But councillor representative Jackie Emery proposed alternative motions, supported by community members Stephanie Camarri, Greg Chapman and Peter Stark, which did not endorse the proposed noise contours.
Cr Emery said the levels put forward by staff were not appropriate, based on submissions made by the Department of Environment and Conservation.
Cr David Binks voted in line with council staff’s recommendations as he believed they would produce a workable document which planned strategically for the region’s growth.
He urged his fellow committee members to listen to a “warning bell” sounded by staff in the report. In particular, Mr Archer had written that if the noise management plan was not accepted as per the staff’s recommendation, then the future of the airport would require “a complete rethink”, as State Government support would be compromised by some restrictions.
The group also voted down the proposal to allow fly-in, fly-out flights from 6am until 9pm.
A 7am until 7pm time frame was adopted.
However, regular passenger transport services were adopted between 6am and 11pm subject to an 85decibel noise restriction.
The committee’s previous guidelines for amelioration for nearby properties were endorsed by the staff in the report, but the group changed the figures this week to incorporate new levels suggested by a DEC officer.
Cr Tuffin was criticised for “holding the floor” with his own opinions during the meeting, but said he felt passionate about the issue.
A special meeting of the council will be held on Wednesday afternoon to consider the committee’s recommendations and other reports not discussed by the group due to a lack of time, including an infrastructure report, statement of intent for the airport’s future and proposed memorandum of understanding with Resorts Australia about the facility.