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50 fed-up graziers break silence on Shoalwater safety concerns

Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment watch on as United States Marine Corps C-130 Hercules, AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1Y Venom aircraft prepare to depart the airstrip at Mount Bundey Training Area in the Northern Territory as part of Exercise Talisman Saber.
Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment watch on as United States Marine Corps C-130 Hercules, AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1Y Venom aircraft prepare to depart the airstrip at Mount Bundey Training Area in the Northern Territory as part of Exercise Talisman Saber. LSIS Jake Badior

SAFETY concerns for livestock and children living in the Shoalwater Bay flight area continue to be raised with farmers outlining why their concerns are only being raised now.

The Singapore Armed Forces, who have been conducting Exercise Wallaby at Shoalwater Bay Military Training Facility for 26 years, started this year's exercise yesterday.

But landowners, who have raised concerns since Talisman Saber about low flying large military aircraft, are still struggling to get answers about how to keep their cattle and their children safe.

Many people in the community have asked why farmers are only complaining now - with the exercise having taken place at Shoalwater for the past 26 years.

"While aircraft operations have been the subject of noise complaints, there have been no reported safety incidents that have resulted from Exercise Wallaby," the office of the Minister for Defence said in a statement issued to The Morning Bulletin this week.

"Defence has implemented a process which allows local property owners to request 'no fly areas' over their properties for periods where they believe aircraft operations may create safety issues during mustering. This process will be in place during the period August 31 to September 21 2017 and is aimed at avoiding problems, particularly with cattle mustering, which may be caused by Singaporean aircraft flying to the training area whilst still allowing the aircrews to achieve valuable training outcomes."

Shoalwater Bay land owner and aviation expert Roger Toole said while there had not been any complaints made, it doesn't mean there hasn't been any issues.

He said graziers just haven't spoken up about it until now.

This year has been the first time farmers could submit forms for No Fly Areas.

 

 

SAFETY CONCERNS: Cattle producers in the Shoalwater Bay flight area are worried about the Exercise Wallaby flight plans.
SAFETY CONCERNS: Cattle producers in the Shoalwater Bay flight area are worried about the Exercise Wallaby flight plans.

Mr Toole said there had been more than 50 lodged so far, but only two days approved for mustering activities.

He said 26 years ago, all the Singapore Army was bringing to Shoalwater Bay were soldiers.

Mr Toole said it had only been in recent years that the big military aircraft were used.

"There's been an increase of aircraft activity out at Shoalwater Bay, particularly in the past year," he said.

Mr Toole said graziers had put up with it in the past, but they've now had enough.

"Is it the case the Australian Government are prepared to put Australians at risk for the sake of allowing the RSAF aircrews to fly at 500 feet above ground level outside the designated military training areas," Mr Toole asked.

"The law may say it is legal but I doubt that will stand up in court when it has been pointed out how dangerous this activity can be to people at ground level after a major accident."

Topics:  aviation cattle exercise wallaby hercules military aircraft shoalwater bay military training area


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