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Uncertain future for city helipads

31 May 2016

Uncertain future for city helipads Image

By Sean Car

The Helicopter Association of Victoria has called on the City of Melbourne to make a definitive call on whether it wishes to see two existing helipads remain next to the Yarra River.

Acting as a consultant on behalf of the association, former for Prahran MLA Clem Newton-Brown raised the issue with councillors at last month’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting on May 17.

In response to growing residential concerns, particularly from residents living near the helipad at North Wharf, council has flagged plans in its 2016-17 draft budget to develop Fly Neighbourly Agreements (FNAs).

Mr Newton-Brown told councillors that, while the industry was happily working with council to address noise impacts on residents, there were concerns in the industry around the future of helicopters in our city.

“The industry is currently working with council and the local community to try and ameliorate the impacts of helicopters and the suggestion is simply that council plan for permanent helicopter access within the central city and Docklands,” he said.

“There are existing use rights of course but once the leases expire then the concern in the industry is that they will be squeezed out.”

“Now would be the time to have in your annual plan to start looking at whether you want them and, if you do want them, where you want them.”

Mr Newton-Brown said that with the North Wharf helipad’s lease expiring in 2018 and Batman Park helipad in 2025, the association was hopeful council would consider other locations in the city should they not be renewed.

Proposed locations include the site of Melbourne’s first helipad at the turning basin near Melbourne Aquarium, behind Federation Square and even locations around Docklands.

Mr Newton-Brown urged the council to develop a policy or potentially risk losing one of Melbourne’s major assets.

“It’s a significant benefit that Melbourne has over all other capital cities in Australia in that we’re able to transport people from the central city,” he said.

“It’s not just rich people going for rides, it has an enormous impact on tourism in the state – with people coming into the city and fanning out across the state to regional attractions. The use of helipads for emergency services is also significant.”

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