Travel

Sydney Harbour floating heliport plan on hold

December 25, 2012

Sydney opera house and harbour bridge, Australia. – Picture courtesy of  ©rorem/shutterstock.comSydney opera house and harbour bridge, Australia. – Picture courtesy of ©rorem/shutterstock.com

SYDNEY, Dec 25 – A plan for wealthy executives and tourists landing in Sydney to flit directly to the city’s famous harbour via a floating heliport has been put on hold after fierce public opposition.

The company that was set up to run the operation, providing for quick transfers to and from Sydney airport and scenic flights over the harbour, said it wanted to further consider the operation’s “feasibility”.

“It is Newcastle Helicopter’s intention to address the relevant concerns and queries with thoroughly considered and accurate information, and is taking the appropriate steps to do so,” it said in a statement late Saturday.

It followed rising public anger over the New South Wales state government giving the go-head last month to unlimited flights from a barge anchored on the harbour, which is popular for yachting and close to residential areas.

According to reports, the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) issued the licence without consulting the community, doing an environmental impact assessment, testing for noise, or putting the project out to tender.

The Sydney Morning Herald also claimed approval was given two weeks before authorities asked about air safety or air traffic control regulations.

New South Wales Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner last week insisted all usual procedures had been followed.

“As required by RMS, the proponent wrote to relevant councils in October outlining the proposal and inviting feedback but received no responses,” he said in a statement.

Federal MP Malcolm Turnbull led the campaign against the heliport and said the decision had descended into farce.

“If you put this into an episode of ‘Yes, Minister’, nobody would believe it,” he told reporters, referring to the satirical British comedy show, which revolves around the inner workings of government.

Industry leaders have long called for a heliport based in the city, which last had one in the late 1980s operating from the Darling Harbour tourist precinct. – AFP-Relaxnews