Making a lot of noise over aircraft
The East Melbourne Group (EMG) has a very loud bee in its bonnet. In fact, it has been buzzing for some time.
As was reported in the December 2023/January 2024 issue of Inner City News the buzz has reached Canberra with the Federal Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt asking questions as to what can be done to allay the noise of overflying aircraft.
I am a resident of East Melbourne, and I am stung not by the aircraft noise but the assumption of the EMG that this is a general concern. It actually isn’t.
Aircraft noise in East Melbourne is a parish pump issue. It is really about a small group of people who want change. This has been done without substantial residential consultation.
But the matter has wider consequences than a minority group of annoyed residents agitating for a desired result.
East Melbourne is one of the smallest identifiable suburbs in Melbourne. It is not a hive of activity. People like it that way and they want to keep the status of being Melbourne’s “most liveable suburb.” It’s good for real estate and marketing. It’s good for snobby bragging rights.
The EMG make it sound like aircraft are constantly overflying the suburb. This is straight hyperbole and is simply wrong. Moreover, if size matters, any aircraft are across the suburb in seconds. That is apparently too long.
The noise is hardly intrusive or persistent. It is not 24/7 by any stretch. The calls for change from EMG to Canberra are really about a few people holding disproportionate influence. Do I catch a whiff of political opportunism in future voters?
Where are the research findings of decibel levels harmful to human health? Where are the flight schedules at night, for example? If something annoys, irritates, or frustrates a few, that is no reason to assume others feel the same unless there is a survey of residents’ responses. I have seen no survey.
This has left the EMG to be seen as a coterie of self-centred individuals and a display of remarkable NIMBYism.
Aircraft overfly East Melbourne because of weather, wind, vision, and the safest approach to the airports. The EMG has appeared to not consider adequately, if at all, the safety matter.
This is cause for concern. It is not just passenger jet aircraft either. Light planes may fly over East Melbourne and it is difficult to see how this is deleterious to health. Sleep is not interrupted as they rarely fly at night.
What about the fly pasts for commemorative services at the Shrine of Remembrance? Will they, if the EMG gets its way, not be able turn over East Melbourne?
Then there are police helicopters, media helicopters, and the air ambulance from the Royal Melbourne Hospital. If the EMG say they are too noisy, they will all have to skirt the suburb and thereby lose time when an emergency or significant public disturbance requires a direct flight response. This also appears to not be front of mind for the EMG.
Aircraft noise in East Melbourne is not an issue of substance. To say so is a step away from reality and a gross exaggeration. It behoves residents to ask the question as to whether they are content to have decisions made and actions taken without consultation. I am not.
Christopher Bantick is a Melbourne journalist who has lived in East Melbourne for a decade. •