Residents of one suburb have a message for Chemist Warehouse: stop using drones to make deliveries over our homes
Retailers including Chemist Warehouse and the Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez have been involved in a trial whereby drones are delivering products to homes in the Tuggeranong district in Canberra’s south.
According to the Canberra Times, the company trialling the service, Wings, is keen to expand it throughout the ACT.
But the residents of Bonython, the suburb next door to Wings’ base in Greenway, say the drones are destroying the amenity of their suburb with noise and loss of privacy having become significant problems.
“Chemist Warehouse and chemists are supposed to help with the welfare of people, but these drones are driving people mad,” Nev Sheather, spokesperson for the newly-formed Facebook action group Bonython Against Drones, told the AJP.
“The most extreme example is an ex-soldier in our group who has post-traumatic stress; he’s been coping, but since the drones have been flying, he can’t sleep and he’s back on medication.
“That’s just one unhappy story.”
Before the Facebook group formed, concerned residents attended a Neighbourhood Watch meeting where one woman said she felt unsafe on walking trails due to the drones flying overhead.
“As she talked, she just burst into tears,” Mr Sheather said. “I thought she was going to collapse. Some of the others comforted her.
“We’ve had reports that people’s kids are too frightened to go outside when the drones fly.
“I’ve spoken to people and they’ve said, ‘Drone deliveries! That’s fantastic!’ but I say to them, ‘Come and listen to the 60 drones on a Sunday going overhead and see if you still think so’.
“Last Sunday I just had to get out of the house for a couple of hours – I couldn’t stand it any longer.”
Mr Sheather expressed concern about the possibility that a drone could deliver medication to an incorrect address, with the potential for harm to occur.
Residents have written to politicians including the ACT’s Chief Minister outlining their concerns and conducted a letterbox drop around the area.
Wings responded to one member saying it hoped to make some improvements to reduce the noise generated.
Wings has also announced that it is seeking a new base, due to the upcoming expiration of its lease in Greenway in February, and is potentially looking for such a base in an industrial area.
But Mr Sheather is concerned that this move will see drones expanded across the Territory, and that a different base will just mean that “the drones will fly in from somewhere else. They’ll just fly over lots and lots more houses because they’re coming from further away. It sounds like a science fiction movie gone bad”.
He said that from a health perspective, the drones cannot deliver the kind of service residents enjoy at local community pharmacies.
“In the kilometre or so around here, I can think of five chemists, big and small. All of them are missing out on [this custom] as it’s just Chemist Warehouse.
“You can’t talk to the chemist. You can’t ask what they advise you to buy, or take if there’s something wrong with you.
“If I’m feeling sick and miserable I’d rather go somewhere and get some advice – it seems like the sensible thing to do instead of going online. They’re obviously more concerned with commercial sales than anything else.”
He urged Chemist Warehouse to reconsider drone delivery.
“I just don’t think it’s a good look for them that so many people hate the drones and the deliveries.
“Do they actually know that’s the feeling?”