A QantasLink plane flies over Coffs Harbour's Beacon Hill as it approaches the runway. Photo: Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate
A QantasLink plane flies over Coffs Harbour's Beacon Hill as it approaches the runway. Photo: Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

Airline safety top of the list with Beacon Hill work

THE current removal of vegetation at Beacon Hill is all about meeting safety regulations for aircraft landing at Coffs Harbour Regional Airport.

Visitors to the lookout on Victoria St have noted the work being undertaken on the south side of the hill along the approach to the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport's north-south approach.

The Airport is surrounded by an imaginary line known as the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) which radiates out from the runways at an angle.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) safety regulations require that nothing should be allowed to penetrate the OLS, including vegetation, to ensure the safety of aircraft.

As owner and operator of the airport, Coffs Harbour City Council is responsible for safety compliance and has, over a long period, modified vegetation surrounding the airport to keep it below the OLS, including vegetation on nearby NSW Government-controlled Crown Land.

In accordance with Council's resolution made last year on May 9, Council has now compulsorily acquired easements over the Crown Land adjacent to the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport for access and management of vegetation. Acquiring these easements means Council now has a legal right to access and modify vegetation on the Crown Land so it can comply with the OLS requirements.

One critical easement area includes the vegetation on the south side of Beacon Hill. Council has begun to carry out a Vegetation Management Plan which will initially see the removal of approximately a 15-metre wide strip of vegetation on Beacon Hill parallel to Victoria Street.

Cleared areas will be replanted with low-growing vegetation. The Vegetation Management Plan also includes compensatory planting and an ongoing program of weed eradication and rehabilitation within the Beacon Hill Reserve.

Taking off the tops of trees, as has been done in the past, isnt financially sustainable or environmentally appropriate. Instead, tall trees that are within or close to the OLS will be removed and replaced with low-growing species. In addition, other works will be undertaken to improve the environment in the reserve.

Once this work has been completed, it will be surveyed and reviewed against the OLS requirements, in case further work is required.



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