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Helicopter test at Briscoes boss' Auckland home 'deafening' says opponent who was 'swaying'

A resident of the Auckland harbourside suburb of Herne Bay says the noise of a helicopter hovering over businessman Rod Duke's boatshed yesterday was deafening and the downdraft made it hard to stand upright on the beach.

Rod Duke, managing director of retailer Briscoes, wants the right to land a helicopter up to three times a day on a purpose-built helipad on top of his boatshed next to a popular beach. The boatshed is near Mr Duke's new home.

A High Court judge ruled Auckland Council needs to reconsider its original consent for helicopter operations at the site.

Yesterday trials were carried out, described by Mr Duke's team as a data gathering exercise to help him decide whether to submit another application to the council.

Some Herne Bay residents oppose the helicopter landing plans.

One of them, John Ray, was on the beach yesterday as a helicopter hovered over the boatshed, the roof of which Rod Duke proposes will eventually retract to reveal a helipad.

"I was appalled. Very loud, deafening," Mr Ray told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

"I was swaying, swaying. And I don't mean a little bit. I had to really sway and back to balance myself."

He said: "It's a hell of a problem if you're a regular beach user. We just want to be able to use the beach for ourselves, our families and our friends safely and to swim in the sea."

Acoustics experts took readings of the helicopter's noise and Mr Duke's aviation specialist and his environmental planning barrister, Richard Brabans, were also present.

"Really the whole application is being revisited, starting from scratch," Mr Brabans said.

"First thing we need to know is what is the actual noise from the helicopter that would be used.

"The other thing we need to know about is the actual usage of the beach, the water and the area adjoining and surrounding the boatshed where the helicopter would land."

Mr Brabans said no decisions will be made "until we have got enough information to give him [Rod Duke] a professional and measured advice on the issues that matter in terms of landing a helicopter."

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    Seven Sharp's Michael Holland has this story from harbourside Herne Bay. Source: Seven Sharp