New information appears to show that Airservices pressured consultant Tania Parkes to change her report to suit the outcome it wanted.
When Tania Parkes Consulting conducted its ‘social impact study’ in July 2018, most participants were confused about the purpose. We were asked about the impact of the failed path design introduced in September 2017, and modified slightly in March 2018.
But we were prevented by TPC from sharing our preferences for where paths should fly in future, as our audio recordings show.
So it was surprising that, when the consultant report was published, its main findings were ‘most of the community’ preferred flight paths to go ‘over water, down the East Coast and up the Derwent’. This was not discussed in any of the forums and we have challenged Airservices to provide evidence of these preferences.
We have obtained a copy of Tania’s original report provided to Airservices and it turns out that Tania’s recommendations about flying over water were not taken from her social impact study at all, but from the chaotic community meeting in November 2017 conducted by Airservices. Tania said “ASA had presented Option 4 [actually Alternative 3] at the drop-in session held at Dunalley in November 2017. This route travelled over the Tasman Sea and therefore did not directly impact individuals. This option appealed to many people.”
That is incorrect.
Airservices own report on this session concluded that only “Fourteen residents [out of 92] supported the long-term option of Alternative 3, however generally acknowledged its potential negative effects on Murdunna and suggested it be moved further south”.
That is, only 15% of community members supported the east coast route, and some of them suggested it be moved further South. Nevertheless, Airservices has still chosen to pursue the Eastern route and has not considered the option of moving the path further south.
Airservices internally critical of Tania Parkes
We have obtained emails which showed Airservices were strongly critical of Tania’s report and analytical abilities and attempted to change her recommendations.
One email on 9 August 2018 says “In short. my feedback on the document is that the recommendations are not supported by analysis and should be removed from the document”
Another email on 13 August 2018 says “If they are recommendations from TPC to Airservices there are a number of issues that may require them to be removed”.
These issues were:
‘There is insufficient analysis to justify the recommendations’ We agree there is no evidence to justify the statement about what ‘most of the community’ wanted.
‘The recommendations only consider the community view, not other stakeholders ‘. We don’t agree - this was a social impact study, so the views of other stakeholders are not relevant
‘The community view gathered is not put sufficiently into perspective (e.g. relatively small numbers of people)… noting that people who attend forums are the unhappy ones, which biases the summary ‘. The reason is that the forums were only publicised to people who had lodged a complaint so the low attendance is hardly surprising, as is the fact that the people who attended were ‘unhappy’. Airservices has missed the point that this is about social impact, it’s not a randomly sampled survey or a focus group.
‘The degree to which the March changes have already provided relief, as there is feedback that indicates improvement since then’ . This is wrong. Tania Parkes confused community feedback about seasonal wind direction changes in March (which reduce the number of departures over Primrose Sands) with the effect of minor flight changes to the arrivals path in March.
Another email on 15 August says Tania Parkes is ‘open to further amendments’ of her report by Airservices.
It seems that even Airservices is very concerned about the implications of Tania’s draft report and has sought to control it, which includes interfering in the community feedback process to favour its own preferences.