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Local Community Votes For Plane Sense To Commence A HC Judicial Review Against Wellington Airport, Airways & The CAA

Local Community Votes for Plane Sense to Commence a High Court Judicial Review against Wellington Airport, Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority, over flight path change.

Local community group Plane Sense Wellington Incorporated, which represents residents suffering the effects of a flight path change, held a community meeting today. The meeting was called urgently in response to Wellington Airport’s media release (10 April 2024), to discuss the proposal with residents. The outcome was residents voted to hold the organisations to account, for their involvement in the 1 December 2022 flight path change. The vote, to issue court proceedings against Wellington Airport, Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority, will be considered by the Plane Sense committee before commencing a High Court Judicial Review.

Co-Founder of Plane Sense, Roxy Steel, says, “Plane Sense called the meeting today to hear from our community and decide the next steps we take together. When Wellington Airport and Airways implemented the flight path change there was no consultation. They did not give us a voice or any notice that they were going to change the way we live our lives, in our homes. Now the community has been asked where we go from here and they have spoken”.

“At a meeting on the 27 March 2024, Wellington Airport said that it would put together a proposal for us to share with our members within ‘a day or so’, that didn’t happen. Two weeks later, we received 30 minutes notice that Wellington Airport was issuing a media release about the proposed consultation. Airways and Wellington Airport have been clear that they do not wish to reinstate the original flight path, so we question how genuine this consultation process can be”.

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Co-Founder of Plane Sense, Louisa Picker, says, “The sound report, which was the result of Plane Sense’s advocacy for sound monitors in the northern suburbs, showed that residents are experiencing a significant increase in noise as a result of the flight path change. It’s unfortunate for our community that a proper consultation didn’t happen prior. Unfortunately, Wellington Airport’s proposal doesn’t include any guarantee that the peace will be restored to our suburbs or when. Our community has been suffering the effects of poor procedure and process for more than a year now.”

Plane Sense’s reference to ‘poor procedure and process’ includes Airways working to tight timeframes to implement a change by 1 December 2022. Also, Wellington Airport’s approval of the flight path change with no public consultation, and the inadequate assessment of ‘noise’ before approval. Plus, Airways’ non-compliance with Civil Aviation Rules – with the Director of Civil Aviation only retrospectively gazetting flight tracks a year after implementation, which is one of many legal issues.

The consultation has every chance of unnecessarily pitching Wellington communities against one another when none of the communities have any responsibility for any wrongdoing in this situation.

Roxy Steel says, “It is everyday Wellingtonians who are paying the price of decisions made by large organisations. Quite simply, mistakes were made, and we shouldn’t be in this position. This proposed consultation is too little, too late. The communities are being asked to participate in consultation on a flawed premise and continue to suffer the noise of jet overflights for possibly up to another year or longer. This time it’s our community, next time it could be yours, and these organisations need to be held to account to avoid that happening in the future”.

The 1 December 2022 flight path change has resulted in a concentration and increase of jet engine aircraft flying over the northern suburbs. Including suburbs (Johnsonville, Broadmeadows and Khandallah) within the Wellington Airport Noise Abatement area, as prescribed by the Minister in Civil Aviation Rules, which has been ignored. This has resulted in noise levels as loud as 80dB over homes, schools, and reserve land. This noise is set to increase with Wellington Airport’s announcement of more Qantas flights to Melbourne and Brisbane.

Plane Sense has been contacted by hundreds of residents living beneath the flight path, who have existing health conditions that are worsening as a result of increased aircraft noise. Residents, including children, are suffering from conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, sensory disorders, slowed recovery of brain injuries and dementia, even though they purposefully settled in the suburbs because it was a quiet area. This harm is documented on the Plane Sense website – planesensewellington.com/people.

Plane Sense is advocating for more birdsong and less aircraft noise. It represents residents from Johnsonville, Broadmeadows, Khandallah, Ōhāriu Valley, Ngaio and Crofton Downs. Since March 2023, Plane Sense has been questioning the process and implementation of this flight path decision, reviewing documents obtained via the Official Information Act. It is creating a strong and collective voice to be heard and effect change for the peace of the community. Donations towards Plane Sense’s legal costs can be made by visiting planesensewellington.com/donate.

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