Aero Club Threatens Legal Action Over 'Church-Hour' Restriction
An obsolete no-fly zone condition could cost a Victorian club tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, it has claimed, as it investigates taking legal action.
The Peninsula Aero Club has honoured an historic no-fly 'church hour' agreement since 1965, which means planes would not fly between 9.30am and 10.30am on Sundays so that church-goers could observe a peaceful hour of worship.
But despite church services having stopped at the nearby church in Tyabb 45 years ago -- and the building since having been converted into a cafe -- the club claims the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has ramped up the enforcement of no-fly time in recent weeks.
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The council proposed to ban any flights from the airport in Tyabb after sunset on Saturday until 9am on Sunday, as a trade-off for removing the 9.30-10.30am restriction. But the Peninsula Aero Club isn't happy with this, as they do a lot of flying on weekend nights.
The club's president, Jack Vevers, told 10 daily the organisation may pursue legal action against the council if the "church hour" isn't removed without additional restrictions enforced.
"It’s really a nonsense," Vevers told 10 daily.
"I can’t see any sense to this at all."
Vevers said the new flight rules would cost the club $50,000 to $60,000 a year in lost revenue, and cause greater disruption.
"We try to do all our night flying on Friday or Saturday nights, the least disruptive period in which to do it," Vevers said.
"We’d need to move our night flying from onto a Sunday night, which would be more disruptive for the community."
Mornington Peninsula Shire planning and building director David Bergin said in a statement that council had received "a number of complaints from various community members" about the Sunday curfew issue.
He claimed the Aeroclub withdrew their application to have the flight ban removed two weeks ago, before a scheduled planning meeting the following week.
Vevers said his club was the biggest employer in the area, and claimed the proposed restrictions could threaten jobs, as teaching pilots to fly in the dark would have to be moved to during the week.
"We are very much part of the community, we employ about 100 people across the precinct. The council is not taking this into regard and listening to about four or five noisy anti-airport people," Vevers said.
"They’ve tried to toss a bone and have tried to impose something that’s even worse, which we can’t even manage."
Feature Image: Peninsula Aero Club Facebook.