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Please Support Lismore Airport...


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1 hour ago, pmccarthy said:

I agree with Turbs. One of the reasons our field is successful is the massive turnouts for working bees, so that council has no cost in its existence. It has a key local asset operating at no cost. And it is run very professionally, with no training allowed that isn’t locally based, no high-noise aircraft (except for during an air show) and careful noise mitigating circuits. It is all reflected in the master plan. The result - a supportive council and community.

Is there a contact person that I can give our airport coordinator so we can maybe get a dialogue going and bring some new ideas to the airfield?

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Andy, this is a planning issue so you would need to check what exactly is happening. An individual making a lot of posts on FB has no impact on an Airport If the person is putting up a Plann

Yeah, we've got a special type of Stupid Hippy here in Lismore - the sort the goes to a protest, but doesn't know what it's about until they get there (and apologies to all Hippies - there's plenty of

Morning All,   In the Northern Rivers of NSW, we have a situation that is close to every aviators heart: Local council having a go at aviators because we are an easy target.....  

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Electric training aircraft will certainly assist in keeping noise levels down even if they are only used for circuit training. The Council has a page dedicated to the airport including a fly neighbourly guide on line at https://lismore.nsw.gov.au/a-regional-airport-with-everything-you-need . Taking off and heading straight does not go over residential areas in either direction. This is covered in the fly neighbourly guide. The circuit direction of could be changed to right hand which would take most of the training away from town as 15 seems to be the runway in use most of the time. There is a large GA maintenance industry there so a few Johnny come lately whingers are unlikely to get anywhere but will make plenty of noise until the issue & cost to the council & others gets settled.

 

Landing fees are an issue everywhere but are inevitable in a user pays society. $12.30 per landing is pretty high especially if it applies to RA aircraft and touch & goes. Everyone on the airfield needs to get on to council and get the annual charge reinstated or aviation related business will suffer. I didn't get charged for my last landing there but that was when my radio decided it was not transmitting. The noisiest thing at Lismore is the Westpac rescue helicopter as it has its base there. Suggest it be moved to Ballina & see what the whingers think.

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On 21/07/2021 at 8:55 AM, Munger said:

Morning All,

 

 

 

ONE aircraft noise winger (Judith Forsyth), who moved to our community about a year ago, has managed to get into the ear of a few councilors and now the whole airport and peoples livelihoods could go up in smoke.

 

 

 

On 21/07/2021 at 8:55 AM, Munger said:

 I sent her a message on Facebook. If anyone else wants to, here's her link.                                                                                                      https://www.facebook.com/judith.forsyth.7

 

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All I can say, based on experience with mining complaints, it is a bad idea to respond directly to complainants. Just riles them up. You need to go through the proper procedures, which sounds like through the council.

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On 22/07/2021 at 10:39 PM, Munger said:

Here is the link to the ABC radio interview with Izaac. The LCC spokes persons response left me speechless, especially considering that one of our Foxbat pilots here, who flies twice a week had a bill of over $1000 for the year, because nobody told him about the annual landing fee pass!

 

Head to this link: Breakfast - Breakfast - ABC Radio

 

Then scroll through to approximately the 46:30 mark (which equals about 7:20am this morning) you will hear your interview, followed by the Council spokesman.

If you listened to the segment on ABC Radio you may have noticed that things don't quite add up. Here is Izaac's response to Mr. Wing (Manager of Commercial Services at the LCC):

 

Good morning Bronwyn,

I am issuing the following response to the comments made by Ashley Wing, Manager of Commercial Services at Lismore City Council, on ABC Radio on 22/7/21. His comments were absurdly inaccurate and more worryingly, clearly indicate that he doesn’t even understand the issues around the asset and business (ie. the Lismore Regional Airport) that he is supposed to be in charge of managing. It is not surprising now that Councillors are making flawed decisions to support these types of changes if they are receiving advice from their managers that is grossly inaccurate and misleading.

Firstly, I was previously advised that the Lismore Airport fee structure change was implemented to reduce a budget deficit, not as a “return to market-based pricing”. From our perspective, the pricing has always been in line with the market, and has now moved grossly away from that market. That is plainly obvious if you review the previous Lismore City Council Fees & Charges documents and compare the landing fee structure as it did exist prior to 1/7/21 and then compare it with the structures that are published online by other airport operators such as Ballina Shire Council, Richmond Valley Council, Southern Downs Regional Council and Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, amongst many others. And interestingly, despite weeks of communication with the Mayor and other managers at the Council, including Ashley Wing, this is the first time I have heard market-based pricing mentioned as a justification. I was clearly advised, including in writing, that the change was made to reduce a budget deficit. As a customer of the airport, it astounds me that this would be given as a justification for the change - if you were moving to market-based pricing, wouldn’t you consult with and negotiate with your market, especially your current customers, before implementing a completely different price structure, one that will increase costs to one of your biggest customers by thousands of percent per annum? And wouldn’t you continue to offer a product that is in line with the majority of the regional airport market i.e. by offering an annual landing fee option to attract and retain operators to base themselves at the airport? If they are really interested in market-based pricing, I challenge Council to back this up by coming to the table, which they haven’t done at all yet, negotiating with their market, and offering a landing fee structure that matches or betters the offers available at Ballina, Casino, Coffs Harbour, Warwick, Port Macquarie and many regional airports that offer annual landing fee options to local operators.

Secondly, Ashley stated that Council was moving to a user pays system. This is grossly misleading as it has always been a user pays arrangement at Lismore, or at least for as long as we have been based there. Aircraft operators were always given the option of either paying on a per landing basis, or an annual fee for unlimited landings. It is absolutely absurd to say that Council was undercharging users by quite a lot for quite a while – the fee structure as it stood prior to 1/7/21 was in line with most other regional airports, or at least those that have flying schools and commercial operations based at these locations. This is plainly obvious if you compare the previous Lismore City Council Fees & Charges document with those published by other councils that own and operate airports. The issue that has arisen here is the structure of this user pays system, which has now moved away from the rest of the regional airport market, and the potential amount by which the user cost (particularly to our company) will increase due to this structural change.  Although the audio was difficult to hear, I think Ashley also claimed that users would now pay a reduced amount per landing. As clearly indicated in the Lismore City Council Fees & Charges document for 2021/22, the per landing cost at Lismore has actually increased from $11.60 per tonne in 2020/21 to $12.30 per tonne in 2021/22, that is a 6% increase, not a reduction!! For comparison, at Ballina, the per landing cost per tonne is $12.00. But much more importantly, Ballina offer an annual landing fee option to support businesses to base themselves at the airport.

Thirdly, I note that Ashley commented that Council had used historical data to model the impact on operators, and that they didn’t necessarily agree with my numbers. It is undeniable that the impact of my landing fee costs at Lismore is in the order of multiples of tens, not double or triple, but multiples of tens. I have taken our Lismore landing data at Lismore for the last 3 months and analysed the costs that my company would have been charged under this new structure, and despite the impacts of a greatly depressed aviation training market in the setting of COVID and the impact of postponements of training courses due to lockdowns and border closures, and despite having aircraft out of action for prolonged periods due to periods of atypical heavy maintenance, we would have paid around 20 times more for our landings at Lismore on a per annum basis over this period. Unlike Council who are looking backwards for their modelling, I am also looking forward to a time when our market returns to a post COVD norm, when this impact will be much greater.

I will also note that we have already received widespread response and support from the wider general aviation industry, and unfortunately this change of fee structure, and the manner by which it has been introduced, has already inflicted significant damage to the reputation of the airport as a location to conduct aviation businesses, and may already have devalued the airport as a commercial asset.

As far as we are concerned, this matter is far from over. Firstly, we look forward to a time when Council actually has an understanding of the asset and business they are managing, and the impact of the decisions they are making, and secondly, we look forward to Council backing up its comments by actually participating in sensible market-based negotiation. I also urge all of the candidates for the upcoming local government elections to seek their own advice on this matter, as it is clear from the response given by Ashley that the advice from Council managers is flawed. I also urge them indicate their positions on this issue prior to the election, and for the new council to introduce and pass a motion at their first meeting to rescind these fee structure changes and then repeat the process of restructuring the airport fees using a more appropriate and equitable market-based approach. I hope this occurs before the airport loses its biggest customer, and many others.

Kind regards,
 
Izaac Flanagan
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24 minutes ago, onetrack said:

 

He's owner/director and Chief Pilot of FAST Aviation, as a quick Google search shows ....

 

https://fastaviation.com.au/about-us/

 

Well you would think that owners ad operators on the airfield would have an ongoing relationship with the Council.

It's not at all unusual for a Council Officer to get a bee in his bonnet and try to introduce a new policy which is either unfounded or non-productive.

In those cases, the best procedure is for the owners/operators involved to  request the Ward Councillor to organise a meeting one evening with the  Manager(s) involved to discuss the two sides of the argument and reach an agreement. Everyone involved tends to go away with a lot more knowledge and in most cases the problem is fixed.

 

This is much better than people waginging a media war which can't make the facts or history clear because it's too fast-moving, and usually drags in all the Councillors and officers and has them deciding to "develop an Airport Master plan "which will be fair to all ratepayers" or somesuch tag, and you lose control.

 

If you thought the Kyneton Master plan was good, have another read:

 

  • General Use Business Hub (i.e. anyone, not just aviation)
  • Buildings to 9 metres (25 feet) high
  • Noise Limit
  • A Community Hub (includes mothers and babies who need to sleep)
  • Planning Scheme Amendmeny to allow Industrial development.

The $800,000.00 deficit is an issue that needs to be resolved; the airport can't continue with that level of loss, so the questions are how long did it take to accrue that loss, where was it accrued from, did any of it come from general aviation, flying schools or aviators visiting the airfield. You might be very surprised at some of the accounting within councils I've found, and they've found after some simple self-checking.

 

The noise campaign is a secondary issue which could be handled jointly by The Council and the Owner/Operators on the airfield as a group, and ideally by Ben Morgan and AOPA so the facts that aircraft make reasonable noise can be shown to the public independently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, turboplanner said:

Well you would think that owners ad operators on the airfield would have an ongoing relationship with the Council

You have hit the nail on the head...and with your later assumption, you are on the mark again: this has been going on for more than 15years, when council took back control of the airfield from a successful commercial administrator who was looking after it. It has been a string of disasters driven by incompetent managers and let's not talk about the politics.....

 

We would love to get our hands on a budget, but the council is claiming commercial confidentiality. The community at large here are so fed up with what they are doing, that numerous attempts have been made (even by councilors) to get the Minister for Local Government involved and appoint an administrator (effectively sacking the council).

 

And yes, there is talk of having an Airport Master Plan, so thanks for the heads up on that one! The 800k tag we think is utter BS. I would conservatively estimate that the Airport cost $350K p.a to operate with all the inefficiencies that they have in place. The same manager runs our rubbish tip, the cemetery, the quarry and the airport...yep, all at a loss! (I am sure you are getting the picture)

 

Without writing a War & Peace novel about it, I think all I can do is focus on a little part of the overall problem: YLIS. I always believe in presenting solutions to problems, so the question is: what are some of the successful solutions other airfields/airports have implemented? One thing for and against YLIS is that it is located in a flood causeway, so you can't really use it for anything else other than existing use.

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10 hours ago, Munger said:

You have hit the nail on the head...and with your later assumption, you are on the mark again: this has been going on for more than 15years, when council took back control of the airfield from a successful commercial administrator who was looking after it. It has been a string of disasters driven by incompetent managers and let's not talk about the politics.....

 

We would love to get our hands on a budget, but the council is claiming commercial confidentiality. The community at large here are so fed up with what they are doing, that numerous attempts have been made (even by councilors) to get the Minister for Local Government involved and appoint an administrator (effectively sacking the council).

 

And yes, there is talk of having an Airport Master Plan, so thanks for the heads up on that one! The 800k tag we think is utter BS. I would conservatively estimate that the Airport cost $350K p.a to operate with all the inefficiencies that they have in place. The same manager runs our rubbish tip, the cemetery, the quarry and the airport...yep, all at a loss! (I am sure you are getting the picture)

 

Without writing a War & Peace novel about it, I think all I can do is focus on a little part of the overall problem: YLIS. I always believe in presenting solutions to problems, so the question is: what are some of the successful solutions other airfields/airports have implemented? One thing for and against YLIS is that it is located in a flood causeway, so you can't really use it for anything else other than existing use.

The Minister is not going to "get involved". A lot of famers have made the same mistake about the Water Minister and flood social media with abuse about the "hopeless" Murray Darling Basin Authority when all they have to do is write to the Department requesting water.  The Minister can sack a Council and put in an Administrator if someone writes to him/her with overwhelming, accurate evidence which will stack up in a court, but sometimes the administrator is worse than the Council. What you can do, which is much easier is research the NSW Local Government Act and find the mechanism used to investigate Councils where it is considered that something is not right, or where there are serious financial issues. You will find something like a "Municipal Inspector" which the Minister, if presented with a letter containing facts, such as the Council's annual report showing multiple losses can appoint and embed in Council. He/she is empowered to investigate and cuts through Commercial in Confidence brick walls, and has the power to direct changes and may call in ICAC, accounting people etc if any mismanagement is found. I stress that what has to be done here is gather facts first rather than just having public brawls which Councils are expert in seeing off.

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In Victoria, businesses and clubs can use trhe Red Tape Unit https://www.vic.gov.au/red-tape-unit They say:

 

Better Regulation Victoria (BRV) works with businesses and not-for-profit organisations in Victoria to identify opportunities to improve regulation and cut red tape. We look for opportunities to:

  • improve regulators' interaction with business, including compliance and enforcement
  • cut duplicated requirements and regulatory overlap
  • identify "hotspots" for regulatory reform
  • improve the way regulators administer regulations

Some examples of unnecessary red tape include:

  • too much paperwork
  • slow approvals processes
  • requests for unnecessary information
  • the same information being requested by multiple regulators
  • unreasonable rules or processes
  • multiple regulators overseeing the same activity
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14 hours ago, turboplanner said:

"Municipal Inspector" which the Minister,

Thank you for the input. I have never heard of this before and will certainly chase it up as an avenue!

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Wow! Leave the country for a few years and it descends to this 😉

 

I have no idea of what the planning rules are in Vic (my home state, let alone NSW).. but:

  • When I have had planning issues (admittedly, not airport related), I have gone straight to the planning lawyers.. They usually know more about planning issues than consultants, and I guess if they think you need a planning consultant, they will tell you to get one. When the rubber hits the road, if it all goes pear shaped, you'll end up in court.. May as well have had the lawyers involved in every step of the way. Obviously, get one that has good experience with regional airport planning issues - and not whether DFO can plant a warehouse store on airport premises or not (this is why YMMB, ahem. Moorabbin, ahem, Harry Hawker airport is not the place it used to be).
  • From the radio interview, a local government asset directly employing 50 people and indirectly 26 makes it (without weightings between direct and indirect employment), 343,205 revenue per employee for the $26m revenue.. I am guessing many of those are looking at salaries and benefits, probably at about $120K (as an average - maybe $160K). Lets take $160K; that leaves a c. $13m surplus... Does that not cover user pays (i.e. short of a new hangar/building or rwy repavement, would $13m not cover maintenance?)
  • Although, I have to admit, over 'ere, I would love $12.30 as a larger regional airport landing fee.. Can't deny it.
  • Dunno about the NSW version of VCAT, but my limited experience on planning issues with VCAT has turned out effectively a toothless tiger. At one hearing, the adjudicator (or whatever they are called), stated directly, that if the defendant (who lost the case) did not perform the specific performance, to contact her (the adjudicator) directly to ensure it got done. That was 7 years ago, and 6 years since contacting her.. and the defendant has still yet to carry out the prescribed works. Good luck with AATs when they rule in your favour against powerful adversaries.
  • As TP says, you "busy" aviators have to make some time if you don't want to be forced to be flying from around the corner of the "big prawn" (I do hope it is still in Ballina).
  • Short of Lismore CC turning the airport into a new estate, try and gather figures to present to them why it will leave a bigger hole in their deficit reduction plans if they continue.. e.g. if it has existing use, and the main payer of landing fees moves on, they are stuck with the asset and with less revenue..

The above are ramblings of a homesick madman who has, or at least had, ties to the Lismore and Ballina areas...

 

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14 hours ago, Jerry_Atrick said:

. short of a new hangar/building or rwy repavement, would $13m not cover maintenance?)

I like that back of the envelope calculation! Might see if I can use that 🙂

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Well, we have been to a councilor briefing before a closed session on fees and we got this response from one from the councilors 'on our side':

 

"I think you got some sense of the views of a couple of councillors with the questions asked of you and the other speakers. There is much empathy with the residents affected by the noise of the touch and go and circuit training and I believe some want the airport closed as aviation is a significant user of fossil fuels. Staff presented an assessment of the effects of the increased fees on yourself and some other (deidentified) users. While we disagree with you on the extent of the increased cost to your business, we all agree that it is a significant rise."

 

...to break it down: Izaac presented a spreadsheet with the inclusion of the new costs for his business and the councilors told him that he doesn't know what he is talking about....BUT the one out of the blue for us, was the closure of the airport due to aviation being a 'significant fossil fuels' user! That is a new one I have not come across in my 30years of aviation addiction!

 

Anyone else come up against something like this?

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27 minutes ago, Munger said:

 

Anyone else come up against something like this?

That’s not going to happen. 
 

Where do the RPTs, RFDS, WestPac 4, Angel Flight, Water bombers … etc  operate from when it’s gone? Rely on YBNA?

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1 minute ago, Ironpot said:

Where do the RPTs, RFDS, WestPac 4, Angel Flight, Water bombers … etc  operate from when it’s gone? Rely on YBNA?

If I would not have sat in on the briefing and seen the councilors in action, I would totally agree with you.

Logic and reason is out the window with this crowd.

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18 minutes ago, Munger said:

Well, we have been to a councilor briefing before a closed session on fees and we got this response from one from the councilors 'on our side':

 

"I think you got some sense of the views of a couple of councillors with the questions asked of you and the other speakers. There is much empathy with the residents affected by the noise of the touch and go and circuit training and I believe some want the airport closed as aviation is a significant user of fossil fuels. Staff presented an assessment of the effects of the increased fees on yourself and some other (deidentified) users. While we disagree with you on the extent of the increased cost to your business, we all agree that it is a significant rise."

 

...to break it down: Izaac presented a spreadsheet with the inclusion of the new costs for his business and the councilors told him that he doesn't know what he is talking about....BUT the one out of the blue for us, was the closure of the airport due to aviation being a 'significant fossil fuels' user! That is a new one I have not come across in my 30years of aviation addiction!

 

Anyone else come up against something like this?

My take from what you said is that:

 

(a) The Councillors who will vote to curtail the airport appear to be in a majority; you can fix this by giving them better information on sound planning grounds (not emotional statements which carry no planning weight and will be dismissed by both Council and NCAT)

 

(b) You will likely have to fix it at NCAT and need to start now

 

(c) There are people on aviation sites arguing regularly for the end of fossil fuels, and you can expect the other side to be quoting them. Is "significant user of fossil fuels true in the case of Lismore, or could you do the rounds of the fuel distributors and find that aviation use in Lismore was 1% of motor vehicles. You can't win these arguments sitting on your bum. If you can neutralise that at the Council level, good, but at NCAT that's not a Planning Issue. 

 

(d) If the term "touch and go" was used by Councillors, you probably have some enemies within working against you, so you need to sort that out now. Wouldn't be the first time a competitor was using the council to squeeze out a rival.  Other than that you should already have demonstrated that the airport requires a certain level of noise to operate, and the level is reasonable. Here's the link to the noise allowed on a road https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/vehicles/design/adr_online.aspx. Get yourslef a cheap noise meter and stand beside the road and measure the noise coming from the passing cars and tracks and the noise comiong from the aircraft and compare both to ADR28. That will tell you whether you have a problem or not.

Noise comes under the heading of Amenity, and usually at an Administrative Tribunal Amenity doesn't carry a lot of weight because people get into the emotional impact and no facts are presented for a Member to use. This way ou can make a sound submission to the wavering Councillors, and in NCAT you can hire a Noise Consultant as an expert witness and blow them out of the water, if the testing shows the noise level doesn't increase above the road level.

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Thank you for taking the time and posing that reply. I will share this with the Lismore Airport Users Group (https://groups.google.com/g/ylisug) and we will have to start doing some footwork! There is actually an existing noise profile map for the airport, would probably be a great idea to verify it with actual measurements.

 

The 'touch and go' is a term that was picked up by our main opponent among the councilors (Edwina Lloyd - scary!).

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I wouldn’t be surprised if the worst noise is from a minority of aircraft; addressing that might be a good fall-back position to have. Maybe they could be satisfied with a medium-term plan to replace a noisy aircraft 

I suspect the worst offenders are GA aircraft with metal props, and not easily modified. Perhaps they are nearing their replacement date.

I’ve seen footage of a Cessna flying in Europe with an ugly car-type muffler slung under the belly.

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8 minutes ago, Old Koreelah said:

I wouldn’t be surprised if the worst noise is from a minority of aircraft; addressing that might be a good fall-back position to have. Maybe they could be satisfied with a medium-term plan to replace a noisy aircraft 

I suspect the worst offenders are GA aircraft with metal props, and not easily modified. Perhaps they are nearing their replacement date.

I’ve seen footage of a Cessna flying in Europe with an ugly car-type muffler slung under the belly.

The first thing to find out is if there is a noise problem, which is why I recommended measuring it.   A new helicopter pad is just being installed in Lismore closer to the town than the airport.

There is very little coming to light on what happens at Lismore, other than the issue might revolve around training aircraft and GA training aircraft are among the quietest.

 

 

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7 hours ago, turboplanner said:

A new helicopter pad is just being installed in Lismore closer to the town than the airport.

Really? We had the rescue helicopter move to the airport and have a landing pad up on the hospital roof...

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