Plans for tourist flights over Bass Coast were narrowly grounded on Wednesday when councillors voted five to four against issuing a permit.
The applicants, Michael and Chris Malone, wanted to operate the flights from a farm between Inverloch and Wonthaggi. They already operate a crop dusting business from the site.
The application drew 20 objections, mostly from neighbouring residents objecting to noise and other impacts.
Council officers recommended the permit be granted, subject to strict conditions, but Bunurong Ward councillor Julian Brown moved an alternative motion to refuse the permit.
Cr Brown said he was generally in favour of new additions to tourism but the council had to take account of community sentiment.
“Quite a few people living round this location did so intentionally because it is a quiet area. I'm sure none of them thought there were going to be joy flights here.
“I’m not so concerned about the volume of the enterprise but that noise can be constant during the day. You might have five flights a day and I think there would be some impact on residents.”
His concerns were backed by the two other ward councillors. Cr Les Larke said it was about balancing tourism and community sentiment.
Cr Brett Tessari said he was divided because he wanted to support small tourism ventures but was also aware of the impact on neighbours.
Cr Michael Whelan said it was the small tourism ventures that made a real difference. “But coming from the other end of the shire, I will take my lead from the ward councillors.”
Cr Bruce Kent said the site was already an approved airfield. “I believe the applicant has done everything possible. The public doesn't understand that with his approval a plane can land there. It’s only when we start talking about tourism that he has to get permission.”
He said anticipated decibel readings of the operation were in the 60s, well below the sound of a passing Harley Davidson motorbike. “People are still going to be able to walk along the beach. The pilot will get over the water as quickly as possible. This is a small person trying to get a business going.”
Cr Clare Le Serve also supported the venture. “If we're anything in Bass Coast, we are tourism. I believe small operators add to the great mix of what we do here.”
Cr Stephen Fullarton said there were obviously a lot of objections but he had heard comments from Inverloch supporting the venture. “We are talking about one aircraft.”
The motion to refuse the application was supported five to four. In favour: Crs Brown, Larke, Tessari, Rothfield and Whelan. Against: Crs Ellis, Fullarton, Kent and Le Serve.