110-year-old Norfolk Pine trees outgrow warning system
AVIATION safety authorities have told management at the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport that a 45m hazard beacon monopole needs to be erected at Lennox Head.
Eleven Norfolk pine trees on North Creek Rd have outgrown the existing warning lights.
These trees are in good condition and believed to be at least 110 years old, and some are up to 42m tall.
Following recent audits by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, it was assessed that these Norfolk pine trees could pose a safety risk to aircraft approaching or taking off from the airport.
The trees are higher than the existing warning lights.
CASA said the trees either had to be trimmed or removed, or the obstacle lighting height had to be increased.
Airport manager Neil Weatherson said they had chosen to increase the height of the hazard beacon.
A development application has been lodged for the 45m monopole and, under the proposal; the tallest tree would be within one metre of the maximum height allowance.
"These are significant trees and we don't want to do anything to hurt them," Mr Weatherson said.
"But we can't afford an aircraft accident; that's the last thing we want."
He said the pole had been there since the mid-1980s.
He also said the increased height of the warning beacon would improve the amenity of surrounding residents, rather than be of greater annoyance to them.
CASA says the Norfolk Pine trees must be routinely trimmed when they grow taller than the monopole.
The development application for the 45m monopole is being assessed by Ballina Shire Council.