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Fears over helipad removal

03 Mar 2020

Fears over helipad removal Image

Helicopter operators have spoken out against the City of Melbourne’s Yarra River Strategy, which looks to phase out the helipad at Batman Park to provide for greater amenity along the Northbank.

In its strategy, the council states that the river is an essential part of indigenous history and contemporary Melbourne advancements and the sound and wind from the pad compromises “the park experience.”

The purpose of the plan is to embrace the natural environment, history of the river, enhance connectivity and improve enjoyment of the space.

However, the bid to make the Northbank more desirable has not been received well by everyone in the community.

CEO of Skyport and representative of the Melbourne helicopter community Clem Newton-Brown said that Melbourne was in a unique position in having its own helipad so central to the city.

“There are enormous benefits to the platform,” he said. “Twenty thousand tourists use the service yearly to travel from the CBD to regional areas. The event space increases tourism across the state.”

While he said that the helicopter movement created intermittent noise in the park, the service more importantly provided excitement and attraction.

He said the landing and taking off of aircraft on a floating helipad was not only one of the safest methods of operation but also brought an air of exhilaration and liveliness to the park.

“The helipad does not compromise the park experience at all,” he said.

“Just because it is an urban park does not mean it needs zero activity.”

With Melbourne to be a test-bed for Uber Air’s vision for hundreds of flying taxis, multiple sky ports would be necessary for operation, according to Newton-Brown.

He said the council needed to realise that the helipad was an enormous asset, which had thrived for more than 50 years on the Yarra and would be very difficult to replace.

The Batman Park helipad is the final inner-city helipad left in Australia after the removal of the North Wharf pad in 2018 •

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