Hang-gliding and paragliding in parks policy

Hang-gliding is an appropriate recreational activity in national parks under certain conditions and in certain areas.

Hang-glidingThe operation of hang-gliders and paragliders is a form of aviation and is subject to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations.

Hang-gliding and paragliding need very specific wind conditions and landforms, limiting them to specific places. Often these places are in national parks.

Hang-gliding and paragliding are risky activities. When you undertake them in national parks, you must comply with the principles of recreational use in parks, with special regard for safety issues. See the visitor safety policy for more information.

Policy

1. Subject to conditions, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will allow appropriate hang-gliding and paragliding facilities and activities in selected parks.

2. To hang-glide or paraglide you must be authorised by the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia (that is, be a member of the Federation), or be under the supervision of an instructor authorised by the Federation.

3. If pilots do not abide by the CASA regulations and Federation code of conduct (Hang Gliding Federation of Australia Operations Manual), the National Parks and Wildlife Service can close the hang-gliding site temporarily or permanently.

4. To go hang-gliding or paragliding in a park you must have consent from the park authority, because these are risky activities under clause 22 of the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009 (NPW Regulation).

5. The NPWS may authorise a person to hang-glide and paraglide within a

  • national park
  • state conservation area
  • regional park
  • karst conservation area

in accordance with this policy and procedural guidelines, and where the activity is consistent with a plan of management for that park and the NPW Regulation (Clause 21).

6. Hang-gliding and paragliding are not allowed in

  • nature reserves
  • Aboriginal areas

because they are contrary to the purpose and principles of these areas.

7. Hang-gliding and paragliding facilities are not allowed in declared wilderness areas, because they are not consistent with the management principles for these areas.

8. Existing hang-gliding sites can be authorised to operate if they are both:

  • located in an appropriate park category (that is, a national park, state conservation area, regional park or karst conservation area)
  • consistent with the plan of management for that park or with the NPW Regulation (that is, they already have a sign or written consent to operate).

Written consent is required to authorise these sites. Interim consent arrangements can be put in place before the site is formally assessed for longer-term consent.

9. Existing hang-gliding sites will be closed if they are:

  • located in inappropriate park categories (nature reserves, Aboriginal areas, historic sites),

and/or

  • inconsistent with the plan of management for that park or the NPW Regulation.

18. The park authority (in consultation with the relevant Federation club) will prepare and implement a site management plan for each authorised hang-gliding site.

19. The site management plan may impose conditions or restrictions upon the use of a particular hang-gliding site in addition to consent conditions, consistent with any relevant provisions in the park’s plan of management, and in accordance with the procedural guidelines.

20. Access to hang-gliding sites may be permitted on public roads, park roads, and approved walking tracks and management trails, as specified in the park’s plan of management or as authorised by the park authority if there is no plan of management.

21. At all sites, a grassed run is preferred over a built launching ramp. A launching ramp is only allowed if:

  • a grassed run wouldn’t allow easy take-offs
  • or
  • the construction and use of a ramp would have less impact on the natural and cultural significance of the area than a grassed run.

22. Each launch site must have an identified and available landing site or sites, including emergency landing site(s), to ensure pilot safety.

23. Landing sites must be outside the park where possible. If they are within the park, they must conform to the relevant site management plan.

24. Neighbouring land owners sometimes provide landing or emergency landing sites, or clear and maintain vegetation below a launch site. If a land owner who does this withdraws permission for Federation members to use the site, or ceases to maintain the site, the park authority may close any hang-gliding sites within a park until other landing arrangements are put in place.

25. Each site needs places for vehicles to park and unload. If these can’t be provided, the park authority may close the site temporarily or permanently.

26. Signs must be placed at each hang-gliding site for instruction and public safety, in accordance with the procedural guidelines and site management plan.

27. Standardised signs for each hang-gliding site will be designed by the Federation in consultation with NPWS.

28. The relevant Federation club for each hang-gliding site will nominate a name for the site and this name will be included in the signs at the site. NPWS prefers names that are known throughout the community or that refer to prominent natural features of the landscape.

29. Signs will be installed at hang-gliding sites in accordance with the procedural guidelines, and as detailed in the site management plan. Signs must be affixed to structures or their own free-standing posts. You may not paint or make any permanent marking upon a tree, plant or rock in the park or attach a sign to a tree, plant or rock.

30. Responsibility for providing infrastructure and maintaining the site may vary between sites. These responsibilities will be negotiated between the relevant Federation club and the park authority, and detailed in each individual site management plan.

31. Usually the Federation club, after gaining consent from the park authority, will be responsible for designing, constructing, installing and maintaining infrastructure such as launch structures, platforms, and signs related to hang-gliding and paragliding.

32. The park authority will usually be responsible for providing and maintaining ancillary (park management) infrastructure such as access tracks, grassed areas, parking, gates and fencing.

33. Any works required for the maintenance and upkeep of hang-gliding sites, and any upgrade or reconfiguration of sites, must have the park authority’s consent.

34. For safety reasons, other park users will not be permitted on the hang-gliding site while it being used by hang-gliders or paragliders.

35. When it is not being used for hang-gliding or paragliding, the site may be used for other purposes (for instance, as a picnic area), if permitted by the park authority in accordance with the procedural guidelines and as specified in the site management plan.

Activity records

36. Commercial operators must keep records of all hang-gliding and paragliding activities undertaken within parks and make them available to the park authority on request.

37. The Federation will maintain a database of all known hang-gliding sites within parks, including site-specific information detailed in the procedural guidelines and site management plan.

38. No fee will be charged for recreational (non-commercial) hang-gliding and paragliding other than standard fees and charges (such as park entry fees) and fees for providing specific infrastructure (such as parking areas).

39. Commercial operators must pay a one-off non-refundable processing fee to the park authority with their application to carry out commercial hang-gliding and paragliding. If the application is approved, they must pay an annual licence fee before the licence is signed. Commercial operators must also pay a fee based on the number of their customers.

40. If the park authority designs, constructs or maintains infrastructure required in the site management plan, it can recoup the costs associated with this (for both materials and labour) from the relevant Federation club, or request payment before undertaking any works.

Consents

41. The park authority may issue one-year interim written consents for a maximum total of three years.

42. Consent can only be renewed after this interim period if a review of environmental factors (REF) has been carried out for each authorised hang-gliding site in the park.

Subsequent consent arrangements

43. After the interim consent for a site has expired (and subject to the conditions placed on the renewal of that consent), the park authority may grant the Federation (or Federation club) a three-year written consent allowing Federation members to hang-glide and paraglide at that site.

44. Subsequent renewal of a three-year consent will be subject to conditions outlined in the policy, including an annual site inspection of the site to assess any impacts arising from its use.

General consent conditions

45. In granting a consent to the Federation, general conditions that the park authority may impose upon the Federation include (but are not limited to):

  • hang-gliders and paragliders are to obey lawful directions of park authority staff
  • Federation clubs are to notify the park authority when they intend to use a site that is infrequently used, or when a special event is scheduled
  • site users may not make any changes to the environment, permanent or temporary, without approval from the park authority
  • site users are responsible for removing their rubbish and litter
  • the park authority may withdraw consent to use the site if pilots do not conduct themselves in accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s regulations and the Federation's Operations Manual.

Site assessment

Review of environmental factors (REF) for existing sites

46. A review of environmental factors (the standard NPWS REF) will be conducted for each authorised site within the period of the interim consent (which is a maximum of three years). The purpose of the review is to identify any impacts resulting from the activity and determine whether a subsequent consent will be given at each site.

47. Usually the park authority will prepare the review of environmental factors, with help from the relevant hang-gliding clubs. The park authority may charge a fee for staff time if substantial staff time and resources are required.

48. Where consultants are required for specific work or there are other external costs, these costs will be met by the relevant hang-gliding club.

49. Any required cost-sharing arrangements will be agreed to before the park authority prepares the review of environmental factors.

50. The review of environmental factors must analyse the ecological, cultural and social impacts and risks associated with hang-gliding and paragliding activities.

51. Possible impacts of hang-gliding and paragliding include:

  • the maintenance of clearings for set-up, launching and landing
  • unauthorised clearing of vegetation
  • trampling of vegetation and other damage to vegetation that is associated with set-up, launch, landing and pack-up sites
  • disturbance of habitat (of nesting birds, for instance)
  • creation of tracks to and from set-up, launch and landing sites
  • compaction or erosion of soil
  • construction and maintenance of launch platforms
  • intrusion on the visual amenity of a park
  • conflicts with other park users
  • parking congestion
  • the risks and environmental impacts associated with rescuing accident victims
  • disturbance to culturally significant areas
  • litter.
New sites and upgrade works

52. A review of environmental factors is also required if a new hang-gliding site is proposed for a park, or operators wish to make significant alterations to an existing site. Such a review must be carried out by the proponent before consent can be granted for the works.

53. All construction works for the purpose of hang-gliding and paragliding must comply with the requirements (including building standards and codes) established in the NPWS Construction Assessment and Approvals Procedure (an internal document).

54. Launch structures are to be certified by an engineer and include a maintenance schedule. The Federation will be responsible for arranging this, including the costs incurred.

Important elements in a review of environmental factors

55. A review of environmental factors (REF) for a hang-gliding site should include the usual information required in a REF, and also:

  • Site assessment, as outlined in the REF guidelines
  • latitude of the site, as read off a topographical map or GPS system.
  • Longitude of the site, as read off a topographical map or GPS system. (Latitude and longitude may be required during rescues.)
  • Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid reference: the location of the site on the relevant 1:25,000 topographical map. Provide the map name, serial number and six-digit positioning code.
  • Height of launch above mean sea level, as read off a topographical map or a GPS system.
  • Direction of the launch to the nearest thirty (30) degrees from magnetic north.
  • Launch description (the type of mechanism used by the pilots to become airborne). The three main mechanisms are grass run, slot take-off, and platform launch. Detail the approximate length, width and height of the structure and indicate any other infrastructure, such as small walls or extended foundations, that assists in the launch.
  • Predominant seasonal wind direction. Indicate:
    • the predominant wind direction for the seasons of the year
    • the most suitable period of the year for hang-gliding from this site
    • whether the site may only be used for a short period during the year when the wind conditions match the site conditions. (An alternative site may offer a longer period of hang-gliding opportunities.)
    • Types of hang-gliding or paragliding currently practised at the site. For instance:
      • non-commercial
      • commercial
      • novice
      • intermediate
      • advanced
      • competition
      • tandem
      • teaching.
      • Years the site has been used for hang-gliding (including prior to being managed by NPWS). The public use of long-term facilities must be appreciated in granting consent for the use of the site.
      • Available infrastructure at the site.
      • Vehicle access to the site. Determine if the vehicle access to the site is via a public road and what the restrictions are for travelling on this road. Should access be granted in all weather conditions at all times throughout the year to all sizes of vehicles (2WD, 4WD, minibuses and larger buses), or should there be some restrictions related to weather conditions (black frost, fire seasons), vehicle size or times of year?
      • Viewing facilities. Is there an area set aside for non-participating (viewing) public? How many people can this area safely accommodate and are infrastructure improvements required? Is there an adequate path past the set-up site or does the public have to walk through the set-up site to the viewing area?
      • Approved landing and pick-up sites. How many landing sites are available? How many have been approved? Are the landing sites visible? Is there a requirement for mapping the area? Are there emergency landing sites (helicopter rescue sites)?
      • Size of set-up area. Record both the area in square metres and the number of gliders this area can accommodate at a single point in time. This information is necessary for the safety of the pilots and the viewing public. Site capacity should be defined by the safe number of hang-gliders in the air at any one time.
      • Access for users and the public. Describe the access from the unloading area to the set-up area. Does this need to be upgraded and if so, how? Is there erosion, exposed plant roots, overgrowth of vegetation or signs of trampling on the access route? Does the vegetation need to be trimmed?
      • Image of the site. Include a sketch or photo of the site to indicate the flight area, the clean-air area and the flight path. Photo points can be used to define the area for each site. This assessment may need to be done in consultation with the relevant club of the Federation.

Site management plan (SMP)

56. The park authority will prepare and implement a site management plan for each hang-gliding site in consultation with the relevant Federation club, and in accordance with the hang-gliding site management plan guidelines (OEH internal document).

57. Relevant information assessed by the review of environmental factors is to form the basis of the site management plan.

58. A site management plan will conform to the provisions of the park plan of management and will address, but not be limited to, the following issues:

  • approved access routes
  • approved launch sites and infrastructure
  • approved landing and pack-up sites
  • provisions for unloading and parking of vehicles
  • site-capacity limitations
  • job-safety analysis
  • general climatic and wind conditions for use
  • approved signage
  • approved site-maintenance measures and responsibilities
  • site boundaries and definition
  • measures to ensure visitor safety
  • measures to monitor and ameliorate impacts
  • measures for record keeping
  • reporting of accidents (WHS guidelines)
  • procedures for contacting Emergency Services in the case of an accident.

Where can I unload and park a vehicle?

59. Adequate unloading zone and parking space provisions for vehicles will be required at each hang-gliding site, based on average use rates.

60. If provisions for unloading and parking vehicles are inadequate, additional unloading zones and parking spaces may be constructed at the discretion of the park authority, as detailed in the site management plan. Such construction must be consistent with the provisions of a plan of management.

Access

61. An access track or route from the unloading zone to the set-up area should be provided at each hang-gliding site. If one is not currently in place, then it should be established by the park authority, subject to a plan of management or appropriate approval.

62. A standard gate should be provided across the access track to each hang-gliding site where necessary. If a gate is not currently provided, and is indicated as necessary in the site management plan, the park authority will erect a standard gate at some point along the access track. Should a gate not be feasible along the access track prior to the set-up area, the gate will be placed before or on the launch site/area.

63. Access arrangements will be detailed in the site management plan, including whether a gate is practical and/or necessary, and its appropriate location. The NPWS may request that the relevant Federation club reimburse any expenses that the park authority incurs.

How are launch sites and set-up areas maintained?

64. Launch sites and the set-up area at each site should be maintained in a safe condition.

65. The Federation club will provide and maintain the structures for launching (given the park authority’s consent).

66. The park authority (or the party named in the site management plan) will maintain grassed areas, including grassed runs and set-up areas.

67. The dimensions and management of the launch site and set-up area at each site will be detailed in the site management plan.

68. If the review of environmental factors identifies launch structures as unsafe, they must be either dismantled and removed or upgraded before they can be used again.

69. Launch sites and set-up areas should be adequately defined so as not to interfere with other park users and to ensure visitor safety.

Landing sites

70. The Federation is responsible for supplying information on the location of the approved landing sites (and emergency landing sites) to the pilots prior to launch.

71. The site management plan will detail the precise location and consent arrangements of each landing site (and emergency landing site).

72. For all landing sites (or emergency landing sites) outside a park, the Federation must provide written evidence that it has an agreement with a landowner or managing authority to use landing and pack-up sites on their land. Such evidence may be:

  • written permission from the landowner or managing authority

 or

  • in the case of verbal agreements, a document prepared by the Federation which provides assurance that this agreement has been formalised.

Such documents must include the name of the landowner or managing authority providing the permission, and the location of the land concerned.

What are the site capacity and weather-related restrictions?

73. For the safety of pilots and the general public, the site management plan will specify the site capacity and any restrictions on the site related to weather. Details may include:

  • number of pilots permitted in the air at any one time
  • number of participants permitted in the set-up area at any one time
  • number of people other than participants allowed in the set-up area at any one time.

How is signage applied?

74. The site management plan will detail which kinds of signs are needed in different parts of the site. Signs may be needed for:

  • unloading zone (for example, ‘hang-glider unloading zone only, no parking, stopping permitted up to 15 minutes’)
  • access track or access gate to site (for example, ‘DANGER: only authorised access permitted beyond this point')
  • hang-gliding launch site: to include the name of site, NPWS logo, Federation logo, warning or safety advice, Federation site rating.

75. In consultation with the park authority, the Federation will be responsible for designing, constructing and maintaining signs, unless otherwise stated in the site management plan.

76. Approved temporary signs may be used if the site is rarely used.

Site maintenance

77. Approved site maintenance measures and responsibilities will be detailed in the site management plan and include:

  • maintenance of grassed areas by brush cutter or mowing, and rehabilitation of any damaged areas
  • application of appropriate paint and rust protection and any repairs to launch structures, signage and access gates
  • maintenance of access track by rehabilitation of eroded areas and removal of overgrowth
  • trimming of vegetation (as approved in accordance with clause 17 of the NPW Regulation).

Alternative use of hang-gliding sites

78. When the site is in use by hang-gliders and paragliders, pilots must act responsibly towards the viewing public and other park users to manage risk.

79. Alternative usage of the site must be subject to public safety considerations and sustainability of impacts to the site.

What are the record-keeping requirements?

80. Commercial operators must keep records of their activities, and these records must be available for NPWS to inspect. Records should include, but need not be limited to:

  • dates of flights
  • names and contact details of all customers
  • names of instructors
  • location of flights
  • any safety incidents that occur in the course of the operations.

81. Commercial operators must provide the park authority with an activity report on the use of the site, at an interval determined in the site management plan. Generally a month would be an appropriate interval. Activity reports should include:

  • dates, location and number of flights
  • names of clients, instructors and pilots
  • any activity inconsistent with the park plan of management or the site management plan
  • requirements for trimming or removal of vegetation
  • damage to infrastructure, including through vandalism
  • environmental damage, including erosion or compaction, exposed roots, weed invasion and litter.

82. Accidents should be reported at the time they happen or as soon as possible afterwards. Reports should be made in accordance with the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia Operations Manual, and finalised through the General Manager of the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia.

Fees

83. Commercial operators of hang-gliding and paragliding activities must pay:

  • licence application fee
  • annual licence fee
  • a fee per client
  • a concessional fee for school groups.

Database

84. The database should include the following information:

  • site name
  • park category, region, branch
  • coordinates, height of launch, wind direction
  • type of consent (interim, permanent, covered in the plan of management)
  • NPWS and Federation contact officers
  • any further information specified in the site management plan.

Policy adopted 24 May 2017

Definitions

CASA refers to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia. CASA was established as an independent statutory authority by the Civil Aviation Act 1988 (Cwth). CASA’s main function is to deliver aviation safety to the Australian public.

Federation means the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia (HGFA) and any other organisation/club insured by the HGFA. HGFA is a sporting body constituted to administer the sport of hang-gliding and paragliding under regulations laid down by CASA.

Federation Club means any organisation that is financially covered by insurance by the Federation.

Hang-glider means a foot-launchable glider or paraglider having an empty weight of no more than 70 kilograms. Hang-gliders are separated into three classes:

  • class 1 is a conventional hang-glider
  • class 2 is similar to class 1 but has some structural differences. (Classes 1 and 2 are distinguished for the purposes of competition.)
  • a paraglider is considered to be a class 3 hang-glider.

Hang-gliding site means a site used for the purpose of hang-gliding or paragliding, including the launch site and set-up area.

Management trail means management roads that are vested in and maintained by the NPWS but not available for use by the public.

NPW Act means the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

NPW Regulation means the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009.

NPWS means the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Park road means roads reserved or dedicated as part of a park that are open to the public and are maintained by the NPWS.

Park, for the purposes of this policy, means any area reserved under the NPW Act.

Park authority is in accordance with the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009 (NPW Regulation), with delegates as specified in the NPW Regulation Schedule.

Plan of management means a plan of management under Part 5 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 for a park or reserve.

Public road means roads that are excluded from the reservation area and controlled or vested in an authority other than the NPWS.

REF means a review of environmental factors, NPWS’s established methodology for undertaking an assessment under part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Site Management Plan means a plan for the management of an individual hang-gliding site that has been developed by the Park Authority and the relevant Federation Club.

Relevant legislation