Rocket protest on koala day

Lockyer residents banded together on Wild Koala Day, 1 May, to raise community awareness and spark action from Lockyer Valley Regional Council to end rocket testing at a Helidon facility. Picture: JESSE HAMILTON

Residents from around Helidon gathered on Wild Koala Day, 1 May, to oppose an increase in rocket testing at a local facility.

Located on Waterfall Creek Mine Helidon, the testing facility is run by Rocket Technologies International and is surrounded by protected koala habitat land.

RTI initially applied to the Lockyer Valley Regional Council to expand the current facility in September 2021 and has now applied for a stage two application, which would authorise up to 45 rocket motor tests per week.

Protestor Hanneke Nooren said she could hear tests from 10km away and claimed the Helidon facility did not have a large enough buffer zone. 

“We looked all around and found information on other testing facilities. Typically they have a very large buffer zone, which then deals with the noise and pollution,” she said.

“These guys are crammed into seven hectares and they’re smack against koala habitats and a national park.

“In America, there’s a similar facility which has a buffer zone of 50,000 hectares.

“We don’t have anything against rocket testing, it’s just where do you do that and what’s there.” 

Protestor Gordon Claridge said rocket motors released huge amounts of pollutants.

“What you have is nocturnal animals that need to sleep throughout the day being put into startle mode from the noise,” he said.

“The noise actually reduces fitness in koalas including reducing their immune system.

“If the koala gets stressed to the point where its immune system isn’t functioning properly, that’s when you see chlamydia outbreaks.”

Scotbar Pty Ltd, trading as Rocket Technologies International, was approached for comment, but did not reply prior to the print deadline.