Plan to reduce aircraft noise for airport neighbours

Plane heli Crown Range

150 nearest homeowners first in line for financial help with insulation and ventilation by December 2015

25 February 2014

Queenstown Airport today outlined plans to help more than 150 local homeowners with the costs of reducing the effects of aircraft noise in their homes over the next two years.

The measures are part of Queenstown Airport Corporation’s (QAC) newly ratified Noise Management Plan which sets out how the airport will liaise with the community and assist homeowners closest to the airport with acoustic insulation and mechanical ventilation costs to ensure their inside noise remains within acceptable levels.

QAC Chief Executive Scott Paterson says the plan was approved last week by the Queenstown Airport Liaison Committee and follows six years of work and consultation with the community.

“We are offering to pay the full costs of insulation and ventilation in existing homes for those living closest to the airport in what we refer to as the Inner Noise Sector.  For those living further out in the Mid Noise Sector, we will cover 75 per cent of the costs of ventilation,” Mr Paterson says.

Properties in the Outer Noise Sector will not require mitigation as compliance with standard building code provisions will keep the effects of aircraft noise at an acceptable level inside.

“Queenstown Airport provides a gateway to the region for more than 1.2 million travellers each year and aircraft movements and passenger growth are projected to continue.  We’re very mindful of the impact this will have on our neighbours over the years and want to be proactive in helping them future-proof their homes,” he says. 

“Our plan will assist those closest to the airport to install appropriate measures to reduce aircraft noise as if it was already at our forecasted 2037 levels, even though that’s many years away.”

The Noise Management Plan is part of QAC’s existing Plan Change 35* which is awaiting final confirmation by the Environment Court.  However QAC has elected to commence the noise mitigation programme now rather than wait for the last technical matters to be resolved.

“We feel that it’s the right thing to do,” says Mr Paterson.  ““We have a responsibility to consider the impact of increasing aircraft movements on our neighbours and what we can do to help but at the same time we need to protect the role of the airport as a major driver for the regional economy and provide for its future growth.

“We’ve already identified the surrounding areas that will be most affected by aircraft noise in the future and know our mitigation package will take some time to implement.  Getting it underway now is the best way we can help.”

QAC’s proposed Plan Change 35 updates existing District Plan noise boundaries, which are over 15 years old, to allow the airport to accommodate the projected growth of passenger numbers and aircraft movements out to 2037.

Three noise sectors have been identified from the plan change.  For ease of reference, QAC is referring to these as the Inner, Mid and Outer Noise Sectors. The Inner Noise Sector, which is closest to the airport, includes homes that will be exposed to more than 65 decibels of aircraft noise averaged over a 24-hour period.  Surrounding this is a Mid Noise Sector where homes will be exposed to aircraft noise of 60 to 65 decibels. The Outer Noise Sector is where noise levels are lower but still subject to monitoring by Queenstown Airport.

Data modelling predicts that 10 homes will fall into the Inner Noise Sector and 144 into the Mid Noise Sector by December 2015. This number will grow by a few homes each year to cover an estimated 380 homes (Inner and Mid Noise Sectors) by 2037.  Mitigation work will be offered by QAC progressively over the next 24 years in line with these projected changes. 

The next step will be a tender process for a provider to carry out the insulation and ventilation works.  The provider will liaise with an acoustic consultant and quantity surveyor to assess each property and arrange for work to proceed.

All homeowners within the Inner, Mid and Outer Noise Sectors will receive a letter from the airport this week with further information about the plan and assistance available to them. 

The airport is also inviting the wider community to a drop-in Public Information Session on Wednesday 12 March, 5.30 to 7.30pm, at the St John Ambulance building (10 Douglas St, Frankton).

Further information, including a factsheet, map and Noise Management Plan are available on a dedicated section of Queenstown Airport’s website www.queenstownairport.co.nz/noise.

According to New Zealand Airports Association research released in 2013, the economic benefits associated with Queenstown Airport are almost $275 million per year, taking into account the supply chain of associated airport firms and contribution to domestic and international tourism, business travel and imports and exports in the wider region.

Background note

* Plan Change 35: Queenstown Airport Aircraft Noise Boundaries and an Alteration to the Queenstown Airport Designation were lodged with Queenstown Lakes District Council in July 2009. They sought to amend the existing air noise boundaries and associated District Plan provisions to allow for the airport’s projected growth of aircraft movements through to 2037.

Before applying to the Council for these changes, Queenstown Airport undertook an extensive public consultation process.  During this time, the community received information on the proposed District Plan changes through flyers, mail outs and an information open day. Small group and one-on-one meetings were also held. The airport considered a broad range of views and altered its plans in order to address as many of the concerns as it could.

After the application was lodged, over 90 submissions from members of the public and businesses were received by the Council. These submissions were heard by a panel of independent hearing Commissioners who considered all of the matters raised and agreed that the District Plan should be changed subject to some alterations being made.

This decision was appealed to the Environment Court, which has subsequently considered the changes proposed over several sittings.  Evidence has been produced from experts representing the Council, airport and community groups, which have been well publicised.  The aircraft noise mitigation measures Queenstown Airport is putting in place stem from all of these proceedings.