November 2nd 2007
TEL flys to Red Baron's side
Following comments reported in today's Townsville Bulletin by Island resident David "Crusty" Herron, Townsville Enterprise's CEO Glenys Schuntner has made the peak tourist body's resources available to the operators of the Red Baron Seaplane, Paul and Carol Mills, whose permits to operate their sightseeing flights around Magnetic Island are presently being challenged in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Townsville Enterprise Chief Executive Officer Glenys Schuntner said tourism is important to the future of the island and the organisation is assisting the start up operator with the resources it has available.
"Magnetic Island is the jewel in the region's crown. For tourism to thrive in North Queensland it's vital that small businesses like the Red Baron are able to operate in Horseshoe Bay," she said.
"We have offered the Red Baron our full support since their plight was brought to our attention through all the means at our disposal. We have offered to prepare letters of support to relevant authorities, contacted our law firm members seeking assistance on their behalf, spoken to national media advocating their case, and provided a number of opportunities for them to promote themselves through travel media."
"We are a not for profit organisation promoting the region, and we're doing all we can with the resources we have to support Paul and Carol Mills in their fight to stay afloat."
"We are prepared to advocate on their behalf, and with the future of tourism in Horseshoe Bay in mind."
"Once we have all the details on the case from the Red Baron we will prepare a submission to the Tourism Minister's office and Tourism Queensland."
It seems however that the Tourism body and the Mills are distancing themselves from the comments made by Mr Herron who, according to the Townsville Bulletin, "...said nowhere had it been stated that the regulated maximum ambient noise levels had been exceeded on land, water or while taking off."
The Interlocutory determination of the AAT notes however that, "At the two residences where he (aucoustic expert Mr Garry Hall) conducted noise monitoring, Mr Hall concluded that the aircraft noise was approximately 25 decibels above the noise levels of jet-skis and outboard dinghies; that is, subjectively six times louder. On the evidence, the noise generated by the aircraft is considerably louder than that of any other use of Horseshoe Bay from the perspective of those residences. We accept the evidence, summarised above, of those witnesses who complained that that they find the aircraft noise loud and intrusive."
Mr Herron is also reported saying, "For over a year now the Red Barron has operated safely - no accidents, no injuries, no deaths - and has no detrimental impact on thousands of residents and visitors on flora, fauna or marine biota,"
The AAT however comments, "Perhaps safety is not a matter of concern to CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) in the present case. However, if that is so we would wish to have evidence to that effect. We would then think it necessary to have some other expert aviation evidence on the safety issues...We are concerned, at least in part, with potential propeller or similar injuries, which is not a general sea navigation issue. While CASA is aware of the operations on Horseshoe Bay, it is not clear whether CASA is aware that the Authority's permission would allow 11 flights per day for 365 days a year from Horseshoe Bay. It is not clear whether CASA is aware that the aircraft taxis through people boating and swimming, as well as moored boats. It is not clear that CASA is aware that the time when the aircraft is most used will coincide with the greatest recreational use of the water."
In her press release Ms Shuntner recommends, "that the Townsville Bulletin should get comments from the Red Baron and Townsville Enterprise directly and check what allegations are made by third parties."
The press release adds that, "Red Baron owners Paul and Carol Mills today distanced themselves from Mr Herron's claims - while appreciating the support of anyone fighting to keep them in the air."
To read our previous story on the AAT's determination (click here)
To read the ATT's full determination (click here)
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