RESIDENTS opposing an increase in helicopter movements around Highland Heritage Estate to 90 every week have urged people to put in submissions amid concerns about noise and unauthorised development.
Helicruz plans to expand its current seven movements, or take-offs and landings, for tourism and joy flights, pilot training flights and charter flights.
The environmental impact statement under assessment by Orange City Council also featured expanded staff and visitor facilities including an activity room, boardroom, offices and separate pilot accommodation.
The EIS has been placed on public exhibition on the council’s website after it requested additional information from applicant Nessdee Pty Ltd following allegations work had been completed illegally.
In its submission, Nessdee admitted an approved single-storey office had been extended to two storeys, although the top storey had not been fitted out, an awning on the hangar’s eastern side had been added and the concreted landing area extended to enable easier refuelling.
Nessdee stated it sought planning requirements from the state government in 2010 and 2014, but they expired before the EIS could be prepared.
“Throughout this period the applicant’s commitment to the project has not wavered and unfortunately this has led to some pre-emptive work occurring at the site,” the report said.
Resident John Cooper said the applicant had tried to get the development through by default.
“If it goes through, it will be an absolute disgrace - they’re trying to justify what’s already been done illegally,” he said.
“The 90 movements a week will take it out of a family company operation that was serving the vineyard to a commercial operation.”
The EIS stated noise tests during take-offs and landings showed the facility would meet requirements, despite not measuring impacts to properties across the Mitchell Highway, although Mr Cooper said there was no modelling for flying helicopters.
The report said all aircraft flying over neighbouring properties would be at 304 metres, in line with civil aviation requirements, so no modelling was required on the cumulative impact of air traffic from Orange Airport, nor the impact on cattle.
Submissions close on December 22.
Highland Heritage Estate vineyard operator Rex D'Aquino and Helicruz owner Craig Murphy could not be reached for comment.