Inappropriate development near an airport has the potential to restrict the effectiveness of its operations and erode the benefits resulting from noise reduction measures.  Land use planning around airports is primarily the responsibility of local government, which take into account state and territory laws and policies.

The National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group (NASAG) has been working to develop a framework that would minimise noise-sensitive developments near airports. More information about the framework is available on the Department of Infrastructure and Transport’s website.

The Australian Noise Exposure Forecast system

The Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) system was developed in the 1980s as a land use planning tool aimed at controlling encroachment on airports by noise sensitive buildings. Locations can be rated according to the level of noise – the higher the rating, the greater the noise level. Contours can be drawn around an airport to show the area that exceeds a certain level of noise. Planning authorities can use these contours to zone areas. Standards Australia is currently reviewing AS2021, which provides an assessment of potential aircraft noise around airports based on the ANEF system.

In its 2009 Aviation Policy White Paper, the government recognised the limitations of the ANEF approach. History and experience has shown that aircraft noise does not stop at a contour and aircraft noise complaints are increasing from areas well outside the contour area.

This is why land use planning around airports and flight paths takes into consideration the range of noise information relevant to the local community including the location of flight paths, numbers of aircraft and timing of aircraft movements, the intensity of noise events from those movements and the comparison to ambient noise levels.

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