helicopters atlantic seaboard sea point fresnaye bantry bay

As you are no doubt aware, for a number of years now our area has been an overflight zone for helicopters taking tourists on flips departing and landing at the heliport located at the V&A Waterfront.

We received a number of inquiries if anything can be done regarding the disruption to residents and with a resident opinion post in the Atlantic Sun, the SFB attempted to find out who controlled helicopter flights over the city.

Unfortunately, we did not get far: the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that they only had the legal mandate to regulate commercial airspace and as the helicopters flew below this altitude, they had no powers to regulate the operation of these flights. The City of Cape Town has no jurisdiction over helicopters, the routes, compliance or safety issues. This is outside of the City’s by-laws and other applicable legislation.

We then had a meeting with the V&A management which was facilitated by the local City councilors for the area. The V&A confirmed that the helicopter flights were not regulated or prescribed in any way – they however said that they had voluntarily adopted their own operating procedures to minimize disruption to residents, which included only flying between the hours of 9am and 6pm and then only above a certain altitude and at least one kilometer out to sea.

There is no monitoring or enforcement of these self-adopted operating procedures which in our opinion are clearly not followed.

We therefore requested a list of the helicopter registration numbers so that we could monitor the flights and report those who did not comply with their own operating procedures – even though there is no entity to give such reports to – but they refused.

More recently the disruption has intensified significantly, with often 2-3 helicopters overhead simultaneously. We also observed many complaints on social media from other suburbs across the peninsula.

In September the V&A launched its much-expanded helipad facility, boasting it now has the capacity for 4 000 flips per month – which translates into 8 000 overflights adding the return leg.

The SFB is now convinced, given the growing public concern, coupled with the disinterested and uncooperative stance of the various government departments and agencies at local and provincial levels, that the only way to ensure that the concerns of the ratepayers and residents will be taken into account, is if we legally compel the owners of the helipad to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment process; our numerous enquiries in this regard indicate that in fact no such Environmental Impact Assessment has been conducted or implemented – which by law must take into account the concerns of all stakeholders, and would then prescribe enforceable operating procedures to address these.

To this end we have approached an environmental lawyer for a quotation to undertake research into the applicable legislation – there are a number of Acts at National, Provincial and Local levels that need to be investigated – and to advise us on the various legal options available to pursue this matter. The quotation for this process amounts R15 000.

We are reaching out to the community of the Atlantic Seaboard for donations toward this initiative. Kindly reference the donation Helipad Project (Snapscan, EFT and Card payment are supported via the link )


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