02/04/2008 - 22:00

Modern machines help soften industry impact

02/04/2008 - 22:00

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In the 1970s, one of the quietest jets landing at Perth Airport was the popular Boeing 727. These days only a couple still come to Perth, operating as freightliners.

Modern machines help soften industry impact

In the 1970s, one of the quietest jets landing at Perth Airport was the popular Boeing 727.

These days only a couple still come to Perth, operating as freightliners.

The 727 is the loudest aircraft that operates out of the airport, despite it being much quieter than in its hey day due to the addition of special mufflers.

Perth Airport general manager, corporate and legal affairs, Malcolm Bradshaw, uses it as an example of how Western Australia’s key transport gateway has managed to rapidly grow its passenger traffic without causing significant additional grief to local residential areas.

A new generation of bigger, more sophisticated planes have replaced their smaller, noisier predecessors, allowing the airport to cope.

“As traffic increases, we expect noise to decrease because of better technology,” Mr Bradshaw said.

Busselton Shire president Wes Hartley uses the same argument for how his region’s main airport could cope with increased flights if regular passenger traffic became a reality.

Tourism WA, with the support of the shire, is currently engaged in a study about the future potential for the airport.

If demand is found then a further review of Busselton’s suitability will be conducted.

With whispers emanating from the state government that it could move the airport further west, away from growing Busselton and nearer the tourist attractions of Margaret River, Mr Hartley is already shoring up his shire’s position, pointing out that residential encroachment is not an issue.

Land titles in flight paths carry advisory warnings and, like Perth Airport, technology is seen as the key.

“You have to have a lot of justification to start ripping up the tarmac you already have down,” Mr Hartley said.

“We have a very expensive piece of infrastructure.” “Increasingly, with modern jet aircraft becoming more fuel efficient and quieter we’ll see the traditional arguments about noisy airports diminishing.” It’s not just airports where this line of thinking is employed.

As people move closer to industry and companies want to increase their output, the potential for conflict is often averted by technological development.

Cockburn Cement, part of South Australian-based Adelaide Brighton Ltd, believes technology will help it overcome issues with residential encroachment at its Munster plant.

Adelaide Brighton operates plants in South Australia so close to residents they could play a tennis match from their boundaries, and believes that continuous investment will help alleviate strains which often emerge from a vocal minority.

Over at Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where Superpit operator KCGM has recently had to deal with high-profile publicity about its own operations and the impact on residents who are just a few hundred metres away, there is a view that technology has helped the joint venture continue to expand its mining operations.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce & Industry chief executive Hugh Gallagher believes while noise is part of the background of the major outback city, new techniques have allowed KCGM to increase production with little additional impact.

“I think sometimes what we tend to forget is that technology improvements have a significant effect on everything, including mining operations,” Mr Gallagher said.

“Mining blasts these days, compared to 10 years ago, are completely different.” At Midland Brick, the Boral-owned major building industry supplier makes similar claims.

Midland Brick divisional general manager Peter Hogan said the company was three quarters the way through an upgrade, worth as much as $20 million, to keep the operations up at global standards.

That will mean replacing scrubbers with new technology and simple FOUR-PAGE SPECIAL REPORT additions, such as increasing the height of emission stacks, which will reduce the potential for impact on nearby residents.

Of course, new technology doesn’t always solve the issues nearby residents may have.

In rural industries, crop spraying and the introduction of new equipment which makes late night work possible, or even necessary, can introduce problems where neighbours were once friendly.

This may also be the case where miniturisation of production processes or power plants brings them to sites where previously they haven’t operated.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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