Then in late November the NSW Government's Roads and Maritime Services Agencies approved Newcastle Helicopters to run a floating heliport on a moveable barge in the harbour. The SMH reported that it had obtained documents that showed the NSW government had approved the controversial floating heliport in Sydney Harbour before it had asked about air safety or air traffic control regulations.
Protests started to happening in the affluent suburbs on the harbour. Local members claimed to have known nothing about the decision. The federal Liberal front bencher Malcolm Turnbull labelled the decision ''reckless and undemocratic'' and called for it to be rescinded.
'The nightmare I've got in my mind is a combination of a summer's afternoon, many hundreds of boats out on the harbour, most of them sailing skiffs, a strong nor-easter, sailing races under way, and these helicopters landing. Seaplanes have to find somewhere with no boats. The problem for the helicopter is he has to land on the barge,'' says Turnbull. ''Who's going to be responsible the first time there is an accident ?''
Naturally, one of the concerns is noise. Newcastle Helicopters commissioned a consultant to test and report the noise levels of helicopters. The report was posted on their website but later taken down perhaps as a result of the SHM which reported that their consultant had admitted he was not an acoustic engineer and had never previously produced a report on helicopter noise. The consultant, a director of the noise testing company, Airport Friendly Solutions, also conceded that he had been wrong to describe himself as a member of the Australian Acoustics [sic] Society. The peak body, which is actually called the Australian Acoustical Society, told Fairfax Media Mr Holden has never been a member, although he used to subscribe to its magazine. A principal of another acoustic consultancy who examined the initial noise assessment, said ''it has so many errors in it that it says they can't be acoustic consultants''.
|Wild Oats near the helipad location|
Ian Kiernan, the founder of Clean Up Australia, is quoted in the SMH as saying
'Wild Oats has got a 40-metre mast,'' ‘'We'll be putting yachts right around it, I tell you. Vertical spears - that will make it pretty hard for them.''
Dick Smith, helicopter pilot and former chair of Chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has taken the other side he is quoted in the Daily Telegraph saying
"There was no problem with downdraft People in other boats would just move a bit away, let the helicopter land or take-off, then move back again."
Perhaps the silliest quote is from Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive John Lee, who proposed the floating heliport as part of The Daily Telegraph's People's Plan, said it was still a working harbour "not a private millpond".
I give the last quote to a sailor, the Commodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Malcolm Levy.
''The area I see designated on a plan shows quite a large part of the harbour … used continuously in yacht races and by recreational users. If there's going to be a barge stuck in the harbour, does that mean we are to stop what we've been doing?''
photo - helicopter hovering over dinghies kindly referred by Doug (Improper Course)
Newcastle Helicopters PR agency issued a press statement yesterday.
''Effective immediately, Newcastle Helicopters has put the project of the Sydney Harbour Floating Heliport on hold until further notice, in order to consider the feasibility of the operation going forward,'' ''It is Newcastle Helicopters' intention to address the relevant concerns … with thoroughly considered and accurate information, and is taking the appropriate steps to do so.''
In the meantime Sydney Ports has issued a Notice to Mariners effective 26 December, coincidently the start of the Sydney to Horbart yacht race.
Ministers Media Release
Wentworth Courier 10 Jan 2013
SMH 25 Jan 2013
SMH 25 Jan 2013 Op Ed