Chopper noise gets muted

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A plan change rule that could have escalated chopper noise throughout the Queenstown-Lakes district has been kiboshed. 

Part of a proposed Queenstown Lakes District Council noise standard could have allowed helicopters to land, as of right, as close as 80 metres from any house. 

The Arthurs Point Protection Society – which successfully fought to restrict the use of a helipad in its neighbourhood – appealed the proposed rule to the Environment Court. 

The APPS, on its website, said under this rule “a general helipad operating 46 flights a day would be noise-compliant 80m from your home, subjecting the facade of your home to 90 decibels, which would ruin your lifestyle, significantly affect your property value, subject you to Building Act acoustic insulation costs and finally prevent you from future building on your land under the proposed ‘heli-noise boundary’ process. 

“You would need ear muffs to walk in your garden.” 

The Environment Court ordered the APPS to enter mediation with QLDC. 

The society successfully convinced QLDC to accept a 15-minute, rather than 24-hour averaging of sound.
 
The agreement was put into a consent order which the Environment Court signed off last month. 

“It is a good result,” APPS secretary Chris Streat says. 

“I would say it’s a case of the council listening.” 

Streat says any helipad would now have to be some hundreds of metres away from someone’s house, rather than only 80m at most. 

Queenstowner Mark Quick­fall, who recently sold The Helicopter Line to Skyline, says both operators and the community “want to have very clear guidelines”. 

“Helicopters are part of the landscape of Queenstown. 

“And while I can understand people’s concerns, at times, I think for everybody’s benefit there needs to be clear guidelines. 

“There’s a lot more to it than just the helicopter landing. 

“There are also the flight paths and how the helicopters are actually operated, which isn’t governed by the Resource Management Act.”