Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Safeguarding Airports and the Communities Around Them

Airports are critical pieces of national infrastructure and suitable locations for airports are scarce. The current and future viability of aviation operations at Australian airports can be threatened by inappropriate development. Communities under flight paths and near airports can be affected by issues including noise, development restrictions and safety risks.

In the interest of safety and public amenity, development needs to be carefully managed in the vicinity of airport operations. However, there is also a need for airports to be easily accessible to population centres and for developments to be undertaken in a way that is compatible with airport operations, both now and into the future.

This page includes information about the National Airports Safeguarding Framework, land use planning, protection of airspace and the review of Australia Standard 2021.

  • The purpose of the National Airports Safeguarding Framework is to enhance the current and future safety, viability and growth of aviation operations at Australian airports. The National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group, comprising high-level Commonwealth, State and Territory transport and planning officials was responsible for preparation of the Framework.
    State and Territory Ministers agreed to implement the Framework at the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) meeting on 18 May 2012.

  • Land use planning around airports is primarily the responsibility of local governments under guidance from state and territory planning law and policy. Effective land use planning is important in minimising incompatible activities which can occur in the vicinity of airports.

    Regulatory and management arrangements for planning around airports are addressed through a range of Commonwealth, State and Territory legislative and regulatory provisions.

  • Obstacles in the vicinity of an airport have the potential to create air safety hazards and to seriously limit the scope of aviation operations into and out of the airport. Activities that could result in a penetration of the protected airspace of leased federal airports must be approved prior to the proposed penetration. Regulations provide for the Department or the leased federal airport operator to approve applications to carry out controlled activities and to impose conditions on an approval.

Australian Standard AS 2021

AS2021 provides an assessment of potential aircraft noise exposure around airports based on the Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) system and is widely referred to in guiding strategic land use planning in the vicinity of airports.

In May 2012, the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) endorsed the National Airports Safeguarding Framework (NASF), which includes guidelines relating to, amongst other things, managing the impacts of aircraft noise. SCOTI's endorsement of NASF was subject to the Commonwealth's intention to seek a review of AS2021. At the end of May 2013, Standards Australia announced its decision to proceed with a limited review of AS2021. The approved scope consisted of updating aircraft fleet details, reviewing the applicability of the standard to small airports and explaining the procedures to develop an ANEF.

The scope of the review does not reflect the proposal submitted by the Department on behalf of NASAG as it specifically excluded the consideration of any other supplementary noise metrics and the provision of strategic planning guidance close to but outside the 20ANEF.

In August 2014 Standards Australia released a draft revision of AS2021:2014 for public comment. The draft revision includes updated aircraft tables and advice about the development and endorsement processes for Australian Noise Exposure Forecasts.

In May 2014 Standards Australia approved a related project proposal for the development of an information document on the impact and nature of aircraft noise. The scope, purpose and timing of this work will be determined by Standards Australia.

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Last Updated: 20 October, 2014