New rules for low-flying aircraft over Shoalwater

AFTER trying to find a balance between a billion dollar grazing industry and military training, an arrangement to reduce the impact of low flying aircraft on cattle has been scrapped, with a new rule imposed this month.

Graziers surrounding the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area (SWBTA) have been subjected to dangerous operations of aircraft over their properties from military planes.

Complaints started during Talisman Saber in July 2017.

Negotiations leading up to the Singapore military’s Exercise Wallaby last year resulted in farmer’s having to nominate ‘sensitive areas’ where aircraft would not fly lower than 2500ft above above mean sea level (AMSL).

However, this agreement was breached by military aircraft many times and caused graziers many issues, putting human and cattle lives at risk.

Roger Toole, aviation expert and cattle property owner, said Defence came to a meeting with graziers two weeks ago in Rockhampton and a new rule has been put in place.

Senior Australian Defence Force officers have confirmed the Republic Singapore Air Force has been instructed that they are not to fly any military aircraft below 3000 ft AMSL outside of the military SWBTA north of Rockhampton.

And in future all of Singapore’s military low flying operations below 3000 ft AMSL will be conducted inside SWBTA.

“This situation will finally provide much needed safety relief to the local Australian population in the Fitzroy region, including the grazing industry, and the many growing tourist activities in the area,” Mr Toole said.

Between August 31, 2017 and September 21, 2017, graziers were required to give Defence 48 hours notice for a “no fly area” over their property ahead of mustering events, which could need to take place at a moment’s notice.

Mr Toole has publicly pointed out over the years that the noise from mustering helicopters was a lot different and quieter to the noise of a four-engine C-130 Hercules.

He said the noise from the turboprop military transport aircraft was so loud, it scared cattle and horses into running — sometimes through fences causing injuries to livestock.