Environmental Assessments

What is an EIS?

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document required to be developed by large resource and infrastructure projects and submitted to the government before an environmental authority can be issued. An EIS is required to:
  • Assess potential adverse and beneficial impacts (environmental, economic and social)
  • Assess measures to minimise adverse environmental impacts (these can be direct, indirect and cumulative)
  • Consider feasible alternative ways to carry out the project
  • Help Commonwealth and state authorities to make informed decisions
  • Provide information to Commonwealth and state authorities, the proponent, and the public
  • Help the department to decide subsequent approvals
  • Meet assessment requirements under legislation.

Where can I find out more about the EIS

For more information on the EIS visit the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project page 

Who developed the preliminary concepts for the flight paths in the EIS?

The development of a new runway at Sunshine Coast Airport has been the initiative of Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project (SCAEP) team who are constructing the runway. The preliminary concepts for the flight paths were developed by a third party, as part of the associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) commissioned by the Sunshine Coast Council.

When was the community consulted about the 2014 EIS?

Sunshine Coast Council conducted community engagement and consultation on the project and EIS, including the concept flight paths in 2014 and again in 2015.
For more information on the EIS visit the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project page 

What is a TEIA?

A Targeted Environmental Impact Assessment (TEIA) is a standard component of the Airservices internal flight path design process and is an assessment of environmental impacts of proposed changes to flight paths and/or airspace.

It is different to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is a document required to be developed by large resource and infrastructure projects, and is submitted to the government before an environmental authority can be issued. As part of Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project (SCAEP), Sunshine Coast Council commissioned an EIS which was developed by a third party.

To understand the environmental assessment processes in full, the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project EIS should be read prior to reading the Airservices TEIA.

Why did Airservices complete a TEIA?

A TEIA is a standard component of Airservices internal flight path design process. In the case of the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project (SCAEP) the purpose of the TEIA was to assess and confirm whether the environmental outcomes of the Airservices proposed flight path design was consistent with the findings of the approved Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The TEIA confirmed that the assessment outcomes were consistent with those of the EIS.

Did the TEIA assess areas such as Lake Weyba and Noosa National Park?

As part of a TEIA, a search was conducted on Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) (a requirement of the EPBC Act (1999)). This search identified the Lake Weyba Wetlands, Noosa National Park and a number of other parks and wetlands.

The TEIA included an analysis of the number of flights that would operate in these areas. The findings of the assessment were consistent with the EIS outcomes. More information can be found in Section 9 of the TEIA.

Summary of Feedback

Why is the Summary of Feedback being delivered in three (3) stages?

Airservices received a considerable amount of feedback, both from the areas where we consulted on the proposed flight path variations (‘consultation areas’), and from the broader Sunshine Coast community where the flight path designs are consistent with the concept flight paths in the approved EIS.
As a result we decided to release summaries of this feedback, and our consideration of the feedback in the context of the final design development, in three (3) stages:
  • Summary of Feedback Part 1 – covering feedback received from the consultation areas (areas near or underneath proposed flight paths that have varied from the approved 2014 EIS).
  • Summary of Feedback Part 2 – covering feedback received from general areas (areas where the proposed airspace and flight paths remain consistent with the 2014 EIS). This Summary will be released by the end of June 2019.
  • Consideration of Feedback: A summary report on how we have considered the feedback provided by the Sunshine Coast communities in shaping the final flight path designs (release date early July 2019).
The Summary of Feedback – Part 1 was released on the Airservices Sunshine Coast projects web page on Friday 7 June along with the Targeted Environmental Impact Analysis (TEIA) and a timeline.

How did we assess and analyse the community feedback?

  • Airservices compiled all feedback from community across the Sunshine Coast received before and on the consultation close date (30 April 2019).
  • Airservices checked submissions for duplicates because some community members submitted the same response through different channels. Therefore we only analysed ‘unique feedback’.
  • If an individual submitted multiple items of feedback, as long as these were not exact duplicates, they were included in the analysis.
  • Each submission was registered and the full content of the unique submission was analysed according to themes. As part of recognised engagement evaluation practice, the themes were shaped by the general topics and sentiment of the feedback and were not pre-determined by Airservices.
  • Most community submissions contained feedback that covered a range of topics for consideration. The submissions were therefore analysed across the range of themes and, where appropriate, the elements of the flight path design that they related to. They were then allocated to themes that related specifically to those areas that could influence the proposed flight path design of the new Sunshine Coast Airport.

  • The percentages provided in the Summary of Feedback – Part One report are not calculated using the number of submissions, but rather on the range of themes contained in the submissions.

For the feedback received from the Consultation Areas, the 917 submissions resulted in over 2000 elements of thematic analysis.

Note: Airservices has been provided further submissions that were received by MPs during the consultation period (20 March – 30 April). These have now been analysed and will be included in an updated report.

Why is my suburb missing from the Summary of Feedback, Part One?

The feedback has been split into two parts so you may not see your suburb listed in Summary of Feedback - Part One.

Airservices consultations were targeted to communities in the areas where the proposed flight paths varied from the EIS concept flight paths. These communities were identified as (in alphabetical order):

  • Black Mountain
  • Cooroy
  • Lake Macdonald
  • Ridgewood
  • Cooran
  • Cooroy Mountain
  • Pinbarren
  • Ringtail Creek
  • Cooroibah
  • Doonan
  • Pomona
  • Tewantin
  • Tinbeerwah
If you do not live in one of these areas your feedback will be included in Summary of Feedback – Part Two.

Will individual submissions, petitions and advocacy group submissions be released on the Airservices website?

We do not release submissions from individuals, petitions or community associations or advocacy groups on our Airservices website.

Why didn’t I receive a reply from Airservices on my feedback?

All feedback received during consultations is registered, analysed and considered. Airservices releases Summary of Feedback reports where we provide a summary of the volume of submissions we have received, the communities we received feedback from, and the themes of the feedback.

Where we have a lot of interest in one of our flight path change projects, we also provide FAQs during and after consultation activities to provide further information to the community.

How will the Sunshine Coast community know that our feedback has been addressed in the final decision making?

Airservices will release the Consideration of Feedback summary on our website in early July 2019 which will describe how we have taken community feedback into account in our decision making for the final flight path design. Please refer to the Timeline on our website.

The Consideration of Feedback summary will form part of the Airspace Change Proposal, which is planned for submission to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) by 29 July 2019.

What are the ‘consultation areas’ and how did Airservices determine them?

The ‘consultation areas’ are those suburbs near or underneath proposed flight paths that have varied from the concept flight paths in the approved 2014 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to deliver improved environmental outcomes for communities.

Conduct of Consultation

Is the consultation period still open?

The community consultation for the Sunshine Coast Proposed Airspace and Flight Paths for Runway 13/31 was open for six weeks from the 20 March and closed on the 30 April 2019. Submissions and/or feedback is no longer being accepted.

Why was the consultation period only six weeks?

Six weeks is the standard period and appropriate practice for community consultation programs of this size and complexity.

Why did Airservices choose drop-in sessions for the community consultation?

There are a range of roles and responsibilities associated with the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project: Sunshine Coast Council (EIS and approvals, Sunshine Coast Airport (runway construction) and Airservices (proposed flight paths).

We chose a market-style engagement consultation session with a number of stands, where the community could access information and talk with the range of representatives on a one-on-one or small group basis that provided for flexibility and personal interaction. This is recognised as an effective engagement approach.

To provide the greatest access to the representatives, we offered extended consultation sessions, sometimes up to 8 hours per day.

Why did the notices for the consultation drop-in sessions only appear in newspapers within the Sunshine Coast Council boundary?

Airservices provided notification for the consultation ‘drop-in sessions’ across a number of media channels, including broadcast, web, social and print, including the Sunshine Coast Daily (Saturday edition). All of these channels targeted the broader Sunshine Coast region.

Aircraft Noise Ombudsman Review

Does the current Airservices ANO review have any impact on the Sunshine Coast Airspace Change Proposal timeline?

Airservices communicates regularly with the Office of the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) and welcomes the review. The review will be conducted independently by the ANO and this will continue in parallel with our flight path design and decision making processes.

Curfews

Is Airservices responsible for Airport curfews?

We refer discussions on Airport curfews and the future airport growth to the Sunshine Coast Airport. Sunshine Coast Airport currently have their Master Plan 2040 out for community consultation. For further information on the masterplan, please email masterplan2040@sunshinecoastairport.com.au

Aircraft Noise

Why are the proposed flight paths considered to be less noisy and more environmentally efficient?

As aircraft continue to be modernised they are less noisy and more environmentally efficient. This is partly because aircraft engines are quieter and more efficient, but also because many aircraft have on-board satellite navigation equipment which means they can fly more efficiently and make less noise. Aircraft with on-board satellite navigation can arrive at the airport on a pre-programmed track, land at a constant rate of descent, and use minimum or idle power. Departing aircraft with on-board satellite navigation can climb at a constant rate and reach their designated cruise altitude as quickly as possible. These changes in arrival and departure behaviours reduce the amount of noise aircraft make over communities and minimise environmental effects by reducing fuel burn.

Does weather and geography have an impact on noise?

Weather can have different effects on noise. Layers of cloud can reflect noise back towards the ground. Wind can either make noise dissipate or “blow” noise towards an area where it is not normally heard. Geographic features such as hills and forests can also affect the distribution of noise. Hills can reflect noise and forests can absorb it.

How is noise managed at Sunshine Coast Airport?

The Sunshine Coast Airport has Noise Abatement Procedures (NAPs) which are published for use by pilots and air traffic controllers. NAPs are designed to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on the community. They include procedures for runway use and flight paths to reduce flights over residential areas, as well as the designation of noise abatement areas. 

Sunshine Coast Airport also has a Fly Neighbourly Policy which is available on the airport website at https://www.sunshinecoastairport.com.au/corporate/community/noise/.

Who is responsible for managing aircraft noise?

A large number of organisations are responsible for aircraft noise management. The Australian government is responsible for overall policy and legislation. Airservices is responsible for flight paths, providing noise information and managing complaints. Aircraft operators are responsible for ensuring their aircraft are compliant with noise standards and implementing noise abatement principles. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority certifies aircraft that meet noise standards. Airports manage local community engagement and develop noise management plans, if required. State and local governments manage land-use planning around airports.

Noise monitoring and noise regulations

Noise monitoring is not conducted to determine whether there is compliance with particular noise standards or regulations. This is because there are no regulations specifying maximum noise levels for aircraft flying over residential areas. 

Rather, aircraft operating in Australia are required to meet noise standards imposed through the Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations 2018. These regulations stipulate compliance with international noise standards that apply to the design and production of aircraft and specify the amount of noise that may be emitted by an aircraft type/model. Aircraft that do not meet these standards are prohibited from engaging in air navigation in Australia. 

What influences the noise I hear from an aircraft?

The level of noise you hear from an aircraft during take-off, landing and during flight can vary. Aircraft noise is influenced by a number of different factors, including: 

  • The weather, including season, wind and cloud cover
  • The height of an aircraft
  • Changes in engine thrust
  • Type of aircraft 

People react differently to noise and what you hear can be influenced by many different factors including your surroundings and other activities happening in the background. 

How is aircraft noise measured?

Sound is usually measured in decibels (dB). Aircraft noise is measured in decibels adjusted (dB(A)) which means decibels have been adjusted to reflect the ear's response to different frequencies of sound.

Environment

Are there pollution effects from being overflown?

Engines powered by fossil fuels always produce emissions, including car and motorbike engines, boat engines and aircraft engines. To reduce aircraft emissions the aviation industry has committed to a range of strategies. More information about these strategies can be found on the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities website at https://infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/environmental/emissions/index.aspx 

As part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) air quality and greenhouse gas emissions were considered. The environmental impact statements and Coordinator-General’s findings are available online on Queensland’s Department of State Development website which can be accessed at http://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-andapprovals/sca-expansion-project-eis-documents.html

Do aircraft release fuel?

Release of fuel is a rarely-used emergency measure. If, shortly after take-off, an aircraft is forced to turn round and land again, it has to release fuel as it is not possible to land with full tanks for safety reasons. This is allowed only at a certain height and at a certain speed. 

Under the Air Navigation (Fuel Spillage) Regulations 1999, the operator of an aircraft within the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction must ensure that fuel is not released from an aircraft during flight unless it is:

  • in an emergency over areas where it does not create a hazard to a person or property on the ground; or 
  • according to a direction issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority under 150(2)(a) of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988; or 
  • according to a permission given by a person performing duty in Air Traffic Control. Modern aviation fuel comes in many varieties but all are derivatives of kerosene. 
According to scientific studies conducted by Canada’s National Research Council and documented in the publication For Greener Skies (2002), the kerosene involved evaporates into the air and poses no threat to the environment or to people on the ground. 

Aircraft Operations

Will the new Runway change the way light aircraft and helicopters fly?

Light aircraft and helicopters will still continue to operate around the airport and may still be seen and heard by residents. With orientation of the runway being changed from Runway 18/36 to Runway 13/31, light aircraft and helicopters may fly over different areas as they approach to land on the new runway or on helipads at the airport. 

Once clear of the airport, they will continue to operate as they do now complying with the established rules of flight operations. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) sets the rules for operations and all pilots must comply with those rules. For instance, there are very specific rules relation to the minimum altitudes aircraft must be when flying over built up areas and that does not change with the airspace design being proposed for the new runway at Sunshine Coast Airport.

Why do Airservices sometimes show a range in proposed aircraft heights?

Airservices often show a range of heights on flight paths and above communities. This is because departing aircraft may take off at different altitudes due to variations in aircraft performance, aircraft weight (heavy aircraft climb slower than light aircraft), air temperature, wind direction and wind strength. For some departing flight paths there is minimum height so in these cases we only show the minimum. 

Why are the proposed flight paths shown with 3 lines and not 1?

The proposed flight paths are presented as ‘flight path corridors’. The corridors contain the flight path track in the centre and an area either side of the track (usually 500 metres each side) where aircraft can be expected to operate. This is because aircraft performance can vary across aircraft types, operators and in different weather conditions so aircraft may not always been seen on the exact same line.

What is the difference between airspace change and flight path change?

Airspace is the overall area in which aircraft fly while flight paths are the paths that aircraft are directed to fly on within the airspace. 

In Australia there are two types of airspace: controlled, and uncontrolled. Controlled airspace is actively monitored and managed by air traffic controllers. Uncontrolled airspace is not controlled by air traffic controllers. 

Flight paths must be contained within the controlled airspace. If we make changes to flight paths we may need to make airspace changes to ensure the flight paths remain within controlled airspace. This could include extending, reducing or modify the height and distance of controlled airspace. 

More information about how airspace works can be found on our website at http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/aircraftnoise/aircraft-operations/how-airspace-works/

What is rate of climb?

Rate of climb is the rate at which an aircraft climbs when departing. This is expressed in feet per minute. A normal rate of climb for a departing passenger carrying jet is around 2000-3000 feet/minute. The aviation industry uses feet to measure height and knots (nautical miles per hour) to measure speed, rather than following the metric system.

Why do aircraft have to land and take-off into wind?

For safety reasons aircraft always try to take off and land into wind. Taking off into the wind assists the aircraft in generating lift and becoming airborne. Landing into the wind can help slow the aircraft down to land safely. 

There are limits to how much downwind an aircraft can accept. In Australia the Civil Aviation Safety Authority sets strict limits that pilots and air traffic controllers must follow.

What is the difference between satellite and ground based navigation?

With the rapid growth in air traffic and a resulting need to ensure our airspace is managed as safety and efficiently as possible, Australia is at the forefront of a navigation modernisation effort to transition pilots from using ground-based navigation aids to satellite as their primary means of navigation. 

Mandated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) since 4 February 2016, all aircraft operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) are required to navigate primarily using satellite based means within Australian airspace. 

In accordance with the CASA mandate, Airservices is redesigning some of its landing approaches at airports around the country to ensure we continue to have the safest and most efficient air traffic management system possible, meeting the expectations of airspace users and the travelling public into the future. More information can be accessed on our website at: http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/projects/aircraft-navigation-modernisation-program/

Why are there two different satellite based navigation approaches?

Airservices have designed two satellite based navigation approaches, an area navigation approach (RNAV) and a required navigation performance approach (RNP-AR which is also called ‘Smart Tracking’). Having two approaches is a way to distribute where planes will fly, so that they do not all fly over the same communities. It also allows aircraft with newer technology to use a more precise approach. 

The RNP-AR approach is designed for modern aircraft with on board satellite navigation equipment. The RNP-AR approach means these aircraft can fly more efficiently and make less noise. Aircraft with on-board satellite navigation can arrive at the airport on a pre-programmed track, land at a constant rate of descent, and use minimum or idle power. Airservices expect that the RNP-AR approach will be used by a majority of aircraft. 

The RNAV approach is designed for aircraft that do not have the on board equipment to fly the RNP-AR approach. Airservices expect that the RNAV will be used less than the RNP-AR.