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Paul MernerContact Paul Merner
First Assistant Secretary
Airports Division
Phone (02) 6274 7086
Email Paul.Merner@DOTARS.gov.au


Activities of Airports Division contributed to the achievement of the portfolio outcome by supporting the continued development of an airports regulatory regime. This regime encourages efficiency and innovation while maintaining a balance between commercial and public interest objectives. The Department also gave high priority to the ongoing development of policies and programs to protect the community from the adverse effects of airport and aircraft operations.


Regulation of leased federal airports

Under the Airports Act 1996 the lessees of federal airports are required to submit to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services a draft Master Plan, an Airport Environment Strategy and draft Major Development Plans for significant airport developments. The Department analysed and advised the Minister on 10 draft Master Plans, 16 draft Environment Strategies and five draft Major Development Plans. It contributed advice to proponents where appropriate.

The Department also provided advice to the Minister on issues associated with the economic regulation of leased airports, and the regulation of on-airport activities such as parking, liquor licensing and gambling.

The Department manages 23 separate contracts for the provision of statutory Airport Environment Officers and Airport Building Controllers at leased federal airports. During 19992000 improved reporting and oversight arrangements were put in place to manage those contracts.

The Department worked actively with airport lessees to ensure a high level of compliance with the Airports Act 1996 and associated regulations. One Environmental Remediation Order was issued to ensure adequate clean-up of a spill site.

Aircraft noise

Aircraft noise continues to be a significant concern to communities around some airports. The Department worked with Airservices Australia and advised the Minister on proposed strategies for dealing with aircraft noise issues at several major airports including Sydney, Coolangatta and Perth.

Sydney Airport Long Term Operating Plan

The Department provided advice to the Minister on the implementation of the Long Term Operating Plan (LTOP) and the proposal for the introduction of the Precision Runway Monitor for Sydney Airport. LTOP is the Governments primary direct mechanism for managing the policy of sharing aircraft noise in Sydney.

Aircraft noise legislation

The Department administered the Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations to ensure aircraft comply with the required international noise standards. Advice was provided to aircraft operators on compliance with these Regulations. During the year four approvals were issued for supersonic aircraft operations in Australia.

The Department developed the Air Navigation (Coolangatta Airport Curfew) Regulations, which came into force on 22 December 1999. The Department also developed draft regulations proposed to supplement the Adelaide Airport Curfew Act 2000. The legislation, scheduled to come into force in August 2000, will formalise at Adelaide Airport curfew arrangements previously operated on a non-legislative basis.

Aircraft noise insulation programs

Further progress was made toward completion of the Sydney Airport Noise Amelioration Program (SANAP). During the year, insulation work on six schools, four childcare centres, four nursing homes, 18 churches, and 359 residences was completed. Progress on the residential element of the program was slower than anticipated due to lower rates of owner response. However, residents whose homes were insulated during the year reported a high level of satisfaction with the service provided. A program of replacement of defective wool insulation materials previously installed in the ceilings of 1100 residences was largely completed.

Following a Government decision announced in the May 2000 Budget, the Department began to implement a noise insulation program for certain buildings in the vicinity of Adelaide Airport.

Discussion Papers

New ways to describe aircraft noise

During the year the Department released a major discussion paper, Expanding ways to describe and assess aircraft noise.

Following the opening of the third runway at Sydney Airport in November 1994 there was a public outcry about aircraft noise, in particular a widespread community view that the projects Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) had given a misleading picture of the noise exposure patterns that would be generated by operations from the new runway.

Expanding Ways to Describe and Assess Aircraft Noise

The discussion paper puts forward a number of new approaches to describing aircraft noise developed by the Department in recent years in response to criticism of the EIS. The new concepts are based on replacing conventional approaches, which use expert language, with information based on everyday language.

The concept makes use of high-quality colour graphics to present information on flight paths, the numbers and times of aircraft movements, and the number of noise events. The information covers areas at some distance from an airport, in contrast to conventional information which describes aircraft noise through noise energy contours that generally do not extend far beyond the immediate vicinity.

The new transparent approaches indicate more clearly where aircraft activity will be within a particular urban area, and gives individuals a much better feel for how much aircraft noise is likely to be experienced. For example, a person sensitive to aircraft noise can make a more informed decision when considering purchasing a house in a particular suburb.

Several Australian airports are now moving toward providing aircraft noise information which goes beyond that provided by conventional noise contours.

A copy of the discussion paper can be found at www.DOTARS.gov.au/aviation/environmental/transparent_noise/expanding/index.aspx

Recertificated aircraft

The Department also issued a discussion paper, Recertificated Chapter 3 Aircraft, that proposed possible arrangements for regulating the operation within Australia of noisy jet aircraft (that had been recertificated to International Civil Aviation Organisation Chapter 3 Standards). The discussion paper has created significant international and domestic interest.

Second Sydney airport

Following the public release in June 1999 of the EIS Supplement for the proposed second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek, the document was distributed to a wide range of government agencies, councils, libraries, community groups and other organisations to help inform the Sydney community about the proposal. A summary of the Final EIS was also sent to the more than 11 000 authors who had made written submissions on the Draft EIS. In a subsequent review of the EIS, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage stated that it was the most rigorous and comprehensive in Australias history, and made a substantial number of recommendations to ensure sound environmental management of an airport development at Badgerys Creek. Since the release of the EIS, work has continued on a range of research and policy advising tasks to assist the Government in its deliberations on Sydneys future airport needs.

Close liaison was maintained with the Australian Government Solicitor in progressing the remaining compensation claims arising from the compulsory acquisition of airport site properties. Resolution was achieved of one major outstanding claim and agreement reached on a compensation figure for one of the four remaining properties. The Department continued to oversee management agreements for the Badgerys Creek site and off-site properties.


Much of the activity already described has a specific environmental focus. The airport environment strategies, now approved by the Minister for 20 leased airports, provide the basis on which airport lessees will manage the environmental impacts of their operations over the next five years. The strategies encompass measures to prevent or minimise: environmental pollution at airport sites, impact on biota or habitat, and interference with sites of heritage value or sites of significance to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. The Department contracts Airport Environment Officers who monitor the compliance of each airport with its approved environment strategy as well as the requirements of the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997.


The level of service provided to key clients is measured primarily in terms of Ministerial standard performance guidelines and feedback from the general public, notably those affected by the SANAP and the exercise of statutory discretions.

During 19992000 a satisfactory rating was achieved for more than 93 per cent of the 918 documents submitted for the consideration of the Minister and his office. Average turnaround time for ministerial correspondence was less than 28 days.

Each resident who receives assistance under the SANAP insulation program is invited to provide feedback on the standard of service. During the year, 64 responses were received from residents, 34 of whom rated the service excellent, 26 very good, three as average and one as poor.

No complaints were received during the year about the way in which requests for exercise of statutory discretions (airport curfew dispensations and permissions for operation of non-noise-compliant aircraft) were handled.

Download Performance Tables [PDFPDF: 30 KB] as Adobe Acrobat PDF document.

Document description:

  • Output 1.1 Policy advice and Ministerial services
  • Output 2.1 Approvals for and monitoring of directions, rules and regulations
  • Output 3.2 Administration of programs and grants for communities
  • Output 4.4 Administration of programs and grants for industry
  • Output 5.1 Collection of taxes and levies on behalf of the Commonwealth
  • Administered Item 1.1 Services to communities
  • Administered Item 2.1 Services for industry and economic development
  • Administered Item 2.2 Grants to States and Territories and local government