We have lift-off

SEAPLANES will start using the Swan River over the next 12 months after authorities caved in to persistent pressure.

Catalina Airlines spent nearly two years trying to get access to Perth’s iconic river (‘Green tape strangling Swan River venture’, Perth Voice, October 5, 2013) and this week, the Swan River Trust approved its application to conduct a year-long commercial trial in which a Cessna 208 Caravan will fly between the South Perth jet ski freestyle area and Milyu marine park twice a day between 8am and 5.30pm.

The plane can carry up to 11 passengers to Rottnest Island, Mandurah and the Margaret River region. The company is still required to submit additional operational details and secure all approvals from relevant authorities before flights start: “The Trust may consider extending the seaplane trial by six months, to an overall period of 18 months to allow for the operation to run over two peak periods,” statutory planning acting manager Jennifer Stritzke said. “This option will only be considered if it is evident that the continuation of the trial will not unnecessarily impact on the community or waterway.”

Ms Stritzke said the proximity of the seaplane landing area to Milyu marine park and nature reserve was a major consideration: This area is set aside as a refuge for migratory wading birds protected under international agreements.

“In an effort to protect birdlife, the seaplane and company support vessel are not permitted to enter the Milyu marine park and an exclusion/no fly zone has been established 300m from the shore to minimise shadowing and disturbance of birds in the area,” she said.

“Restricting the seaplane from flying close to the Como foreshore will also greatly reduce any noise impacts on nearby residences.”

The public will be invited to comment on the seaplane operation during the trial period.

by CARMELO AMALFI

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