Kempsey Shire Council passed a recommendation at today's council meeting that will see all local aircraft at Kempsey Airport be permitted to fly on all Public Holidays, excluding Christmas Day.
During the extensive decision making process, council attempted to meet the community in the middle with a number of amendments put forward by councillors.
The decision comes after council advised The Australian International Aviation College (AIAC) last month that the Conditions of Use Agreement for Kempsey Airport will not be extended beyond June 30 2019.
Although today's decision caused some disruption and outrage from members of the gallery, the decision will also result in council notifying anyone who purchases a property or block of land within a 5km radius of the airport about the potential noise disruption.
Council has also imposed restrictions on visiting aircraft, as they will not be permitted to fly on Public Holidays.
Council have also asked for aircraft to reach an altitude of 1000 feet, instead of the previous 500 feet, when turning into a circuit.
The motion, although passed by council, will now be presented to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for the final approval.
President of Save Kempsey Airport Action Group Adam Ulrick said he felt this decision is disappointing for the community.
"The Noise Management Plan is a comprehensive document and is a step in the right direction, but it was rushed through today when council could have waited a few weeks before making a final decision," he said.
"The inclusion of Public Holidays is disappointing and offensive. The community has continually asked for respite on these days, it's only for 12 days of the year.
"It would have been more beneficial to wait until everyone had a better understanding of the independent Noise Management Plan before making the decision."
While discussing the recommendation, councillors were met with interjections from members in the gallery, with mayor Liz Campbell threatening to close the council chambers.
"This council has just declared war on the community," one dissatisfied resident said while leaving the council chambers.
Councillors discussed the recommendation for almost two hours, they went through a number of sections of the Noise Management Plan final report and added a number of amendments to the original motion before the decision was made.
The report is a comprehensive independent investigation into noise management at Kempsey Airport. It found that no areas monitored experienced "unacceptable" levels of noise during the monitoring period.
"Because of the findings in the report, there needs to be no additional noise measurements undertaken," general manager Craig Milburn said.
A section of the recommendation that was passed will see council implement a Quadruple Bottom Line assessment for anyone wanting to enter into a circuit training agreement at Kempsey Airport. The assessment will look at the environmental, social, financial and economic impacts before it is accepted by council.
"Any future development applications or agreements with pilot training operators from our airport will need to come to council, include notification to a wider radius of residents near the airport and demonstrate that an overall community benefit is achieved," confirmed Mr Milburn.
Councillor Sue McGinn said the assessment will allow councillors to make an informed decision about any future agreements at the airport.
"The four part decision making process for future agreements at the airport allows us to weigh up the variables and ensure there is a benefit to the whole community," she said.
In relation to flying on Public Holidays, council discussed both sides of the issue.
"Allowing circuit training on Public Holidays places a greater burden on the local community," Cr Bruce Morris said.
Cr Leo Hauville agreed.
"If we exclude only one Public Holiday (Christmas Day) then we should exclude them all," he said.
"The 12 Public Holidays that this will effect are really important for Australians."
Mr Milburn said allowing circuit training on Public Holidays puts Kempsey Airport in line with a number of airports around Australia.
"No other airports have limitations on all Public Holidays," he said.
"Out of 700 airports, only one of them has restrictions on any Public Holidays."
From Monday July 1, council will charge AIAC full fees for the use of Kempsey Airport in accordance with its published Schedule of Fees and Charges 2019-20.
Council will now proceed with the finalisation of the Fly Neighbourly Advice, which will go on public exhibition at a later date before it is presented to council.
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