|Subject:||Helicopter joy flight threat to Capertee Valley tranquility|
|From:||Carol Probets <>|
|Date:||Wed, 16 Feb 2005 12:12:51 +1100|
This email concerns anyone who has visited or plans to visit the Capertee Valley (in the NSW Central Tablelands) and who values the peace and tranquility of the area. Most of you are already aware of the valley's significance as habitat for a high diversity of woodland birds and its importance as a birding area.
Last year I briefly mentioned that there is a proposal to build a heliport at Capertee from which it is intended to operate regular helicopter joy flights over the Capertee Valley and surrounding escarpment areas.
The formal application has now been received by Lithgow Council so it is now time for anyone concerned to make a submission.
In the application it is proposed that joy flights would operate from 7.00am to 7.00pm seven days per week, with peak activity on weekends and holiday periods. There could be up to 20 flights (40 movements) per day (280 movements per week, or approximately 2 per hour).
The flight path map indicates numerous loops within an approximate 50 km radius of the village of Capertee. The proposed flight paths loop around Capertee Valley, Pantoney's Crown, Mt Genowlan, Capertee River, Glen Davis, Wolgan Valley, Turon River, over the Gardens of Stone, Wollemi National Park, Ben Bullen, Cullen Bullen, Cherry Tree Hill, Mt Marsden, etc.
This area includes part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and for this reason we believe that the matter should be dealt with by the State and Commonwealth Governments rather than Lithgow Council. In fact I have been informed that this is the only case in Australia where a proposal for joyflights over World Heritage has been considered to be only a local matter.
>From a birdwatcher's point of view, the noise and disruption from regular helicopter flights would surely have a severe impact on our enjoyment of birding in this wonderful area. Regulations state that flights could be as low as 500 feet above the ground (and obviously this doesn't include landing and taking off) - in the valley floor this is well below the level of the surrounding cliffs. Most birders in woodland or forest find a large proportion of the birds by sound, and I know that when I'm birding, any loud noise such as an aircraft passing over really affects my ability to detect birds and forces me to wait until it subsides. This is not to mention the effect on our nerves and sense of relaxation! What effect would such regular noise have on the birds themselves? Personally I don't think anyone really knows the answer to this. As the Capertee Valley is habitat to more than 14 species of threatened birds, surely the precautionary principle should apply.
Contrary to claims made by the developer, I don't think this will benefit the tourism industry in the area. To the contrary, it will have a detrimental effect on the many birdwatching, bushwalking and other nature-oriented tourists who already visit and have been doing so for many years. These eco tourists already spend money locally on accommodation, food, etc. and there is scope for this to increase if the natural values and peaceful ambience of the area is maintained and nurtured.
At the moment aircraft can and do fly over the Capertee Valley for the purposes of essential work, emergencies, special events, etc. However I and many residents believe that regular helicopter joy flights are a different matter entirely, because of the frequency, regularity and type of intrusion.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you are concerned by this proposal, please take the time to write a short letter outlining your objections to Lithgow Council, postal address:
The General Manager,
PO Box 19,
Lithgow, NSW 2790
Closing date for submissions is 24th March 2005.
Feel free to use what I've written above if you don't have time to write your own letter. I suspect Lithgow Council are not fully aware of the extent of the valley's significance to birds and birdwatchers so letters from birdwatchers outside the area would help to draw their attention to this.
For anyone in the area, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is available for viewing at Lithgow Council offices at 180 Mort Street, Lithgow.
If you can, please also send letters to the following ministers:
Gerard Martin M.P.
Member for Bathurst
P.O. Box 712
BATHURST NSW 2795
Fax: (02) 6331 1566
Hon. Bob Debus M.P.
NSW Minister for the Environment
Shop 3, The Greenway Centre
107-109 Macquarie Street
SPRINGWOOD NSW 2777
Fax: (02) 4751 1245
Hon. Craigh Knowles
Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
Governor Macquarie Tower
1 Farrer Place
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Hon. SC Nori, M.P.
Minister for Tourism and Sport and Recreation
and Minister for Women
GPO Box 5341
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Fax: (02) 92283062
Please also consider joining the Capertee Valley Environment Group Inc. Membership costs $10 and donations are also welcome. Contact Veronica on phone (02) 63797200, or email or you can send your membership fee or donation directly to CVEG Inc. at Lot 2 Coorain St, Glen Davis NSW 2846.
Thanks for reading this far. I'll keep you all up to date with what transpires.
Blue Mountains/Capertee Valley, NSW
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