OPPONENTS of the plush Trinity Point development in Lake Macquarie say a proposal to build a helipad on the lake is a blight on the environment and insulting to everyone who won’t be able to use it.
But the developers behind the five-star resort, whose ambassadors include supermodel Jennifer Hawkins and former Test cricket captain Michael Clarke, argue that a new helipad will keep the development competitive and attractive to the millionaires it is marketed to.
This is the the skirmish that has brewed in the Morisset peninsula since Johnson Property Group’s (JPG) application to build the 20m x 20m floating helipad went on public display two weeks ago.
It is proposed as a wing of the marina that would have “minimal” visual and noise impacts on the environment.
But, according to Morisset Park and District Action Group president Tom Dumbrell, that is not true.
“[Developer] Keith Johnson cannot guarantee it will have minimal impact,” he said. “It has been a tranquil, peaceful area that’s basically been destroyed by the development – and a helicopter pad is just going to make it far worse.”
The development modification application to the Department of Planning and Environment allows a maximum of eight helicopter movements per day, and up to 38 movements per week, with no night-time use. An acoustic investigation that used a helicopter hovering over the water also found noise levels to be within the Environment Protection Authority’s guidelines.
However, Mr Dumbrell said the model of helicopter used for the report sounded like “a squirrel” when compared with newer models.
“They used a very small helicopter for a helipad we believe is designed to carry larger, noisier twin-engine helicopters,” he said. “It’s clear there’s not going to be any public benefit – the only benefit is for the helicopter’s owners.”
JPG planning director Bryan Garland acknowledged there were concerns about the helipad, but said most of them had been fuelled by “misinformation”. “We’ve done a very technical and detailed noise assessment, and the noise is acceptable by the standards in which governments dictate,” he said, adding that a helipad was in-keeping with the luxury feel of the development.
Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper doubted there would be anywhere close to 38 movements a week, but ultimately opposed the helipad on noise grounds.