Department of Conservation scientist Jeff Dalley has developed a system to consistently and effectively measure the full impact of helicopter noise on people, beyond just their landing sites. Photo Paul Mitchell

A Department of Conservation scientist has developed a new system for measuring the full impact of helicopter noise on the human experience of New Zealand’s national parks. The system was developed as part of the department’s planning and its advocacy of Civil Aviation Bill reforms.

DoC’s principal technical advisor on social monitoring and evaluation Jeff Dalley believes his system will also be useful in places like Waiheke  – where the community has raised concerns over the rapid proliferation of helipads. 

Senior Auckland Council planners and members of the Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier local boards met with Jeff this week to discuss what that would look like, and what it would take to integrate the system into the council’s planning and consents process.

The department was faced with the same issue that Auckland Council planners have to deal with when consenting helipads – approving take-off and landing sites was the only tool the department had to manage its statutory obligations to minimise the noise impacts on the environment. “So everybody argues over take-off and landings, but the landing site suffers almost no impact at all… the real impact is under the flightpaths,” Jeff says. “There’s a lot of noise being introduced to the natural soundscapes over a wide area, but how do you show that?” • Paul Mitchell

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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