Mother of autistic children raises concerns with Frogs Hollow flight school plan

Concerned Newlyns Estate resident Belinda Toohey with her three-year-old daughter Josie. Picture: Alasdair McDonald
Concerned Newlyns Estate resident Belinda Toohey with her three-year-old daughter Josie. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

Opponents to a proposed flight school, including the parents of two autistic children sensitive to noise, are concerned the development may make their neighbourhood unlivable. 

Thirty-five-year-old mother of five Belinda Toohey moved to the estate with her husband Scott from Canberra late last year for the “peace and tranquility” of the Bega Valley. Now Ms Toohey is concerned almost 30 planes per hour could fly over her new home, seven days a week.

The couple have two autistic children sensitive even to the most common kitchen appliances.

“If we had known we would be moving next to a seven day a week airport, we wouldn’t have done it,” Ms Toohey said.

“Noise is a real issue for us, even a coffee machine can cause meltdowns, they will have to wear noise reducing headphones.”

Ms Toohey and fellow residents Tommy Palinkas and Trudi Badullovich are concerned their property values will be impacted, personal privacy breached during flights, and lifestyles changed due to the constant flights.

Mr Palinkas said he is concerned over what he described as a lack of consultation with residents over the development so far.

“My wife works night shifts and has to sleep through the day. Planes all day every day would be enough to drive someone mad,” he said.

The Sports Aviation Flight College Australia flight school, with onsite accommodation for up to 1200 recreational aviation students from China is proposed for the existing Frogs Hollow airfield, currently used by a recreational aviation club.

On its website, SAA says the school will be “low-impact” offering “expanding advantages to the broader community”, while being an “outstanding corporate citizen”.

Testing by consultants Renzo Tonin and Associates found “noise levels for each flight circuit generally complies with the applicable noise criteria”, with the “assumption that only one flight circuit will be used in a 15 minute period”.

One of the four circuits was found to not comply with “applicable noise criteria” across the highway from the estate, and will be used for emergency landings.

The Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel will have final determination on the school due to its $10.4million price tag. The application will be on public display from Wednesday.