Higher ruling sought on holy hour

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PENINSULA Aero Club is blaming “a small noisy anti-airport lobby group” for making it observe a “holy hour” ban on flying.

The 9.30am-10.30am restriction on Sunday take-offs and landings from the Tyabb airfield has been ignored for more than 40 years.

The All Saints Church, which the flying ban was supposed to protect from noise, ended its Sunday services in the 1970s.

But an unholy row lit up last week when the aero club suddenly withdrew its request for Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to delete the restriction from its permit.

Aero club president Jack Vevers said  planes were now “forced to begin flying operations earlier on a Sunday morning to get away before the holy hour and other aircraft may also have to circle overhead until after 10.30am waiting to land”.

He said the club had been acting on legal advice and has made a new application to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) “to have the matter heard later in the year”.

More than 100 objectors to lifting the restriction were planning to front the council, meeting at the more convenient council chambers in Hastings.

However, the club withdrew its request just days before the scheduled meeting which was hurriedly moved back to the shire’s Rosebud headquarters (“Aero club baulks at flying hours cut” The News 22/5/19).

The aero club has now accused the shire of neglecting its obligations to make sure development around the airfield does not restrict flying activities.

“This is the outcome of a few people finding a technical hole in our permit and using it to harass the aero club and coerce council into committing an act of bureaucratic stupidity when they have the power to simply grant an application,” Mr Vevers said.

“The shire agreed the holy hour was obsolete but, after encouraging the aero club to apply to have this condition removed from its permits, in a complete turnaround responded with an ill-considered and unrelated new condition that will damage airport jobs and have an adverse effect on community amenity.

“… The shire is actually obligated to protect the airport to ensure it doesn’t allow inappropriate development or building of homes near the airport.

“The shire has neglected those obligations and is now attempting to apply new and unrelated conditions which will adversely affect the viability of the airport.”

Meanwhile, the shire is awaiting the result of “a full legal review” of planning permits applying to the airfield.

The review must be completed by 30 June and include “the opinion of a fully instructed and suitably qualified and experienced in planning matters Queens Counsel with junior”.

First published in the Western Port Times – 29 May 2019

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