Councils dig in for battle over Western Sydney flight paths

Some councils in LGAs affected by the Western Sydney Airport are digging in for a fight following the release of proposed flight paths this week.

Catherine King

Infrastructure minister Catherine King on Tuesday released the flight paths for the 24-hour Airport at Badgery’s Creek which is scheduled to open in 2026, along with a noise tool to provide information about how specific areas are likely to be affected.

The modelling reveals that Mt Druitt, Bankstown, Prospect, Penrith and Windsor will be among the worst affected suburbs, with areas including Erskine Park, Badgery’s Creek and Luddenham predicted to experience noise levels loud enough to disrupt normal conversation.

Infrastructure minister Catherine King said planners have tried to minimise noise over residential areas but safety was the first consideration.

She says it will be up to councils and state planning ministers to ensure developments don’t occur close to the airport.

It will be incumbent upon local councils and State planning ministers to really make sure we protect those buffers around this airport.

Infrastructure minister Catherine King

 “It will be incumbent upon local councils and State planning ministers to really make sure we protect those buffers around this airport because otherwise you do get long-term problems with noise when you are developing airports,” she told the ABC on Tuesday.

But the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, which includes many flight-path affected LGAs, questioned why it took the government eight years to release the information.

“The runways have already been built, so clearly these flight paths have been known for some time, yet our communities have not been consulted,” a spokesperson told Government News.

‘Massive concern for Blue Mountains heritage

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill described the proposed flight paths as a “massive concern”, saying some 40,000 residents in the lower to mid mountains could be affected.

Mark Greenhill

“The flight paths show a complete disregard for the people of the Blue Mountains as well as the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area,” he said in a statement.

“Our quality of life in the Blue Mountains is clearly threatened. Planes will be flying over our homes and our World Heritage National Park 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No curfew. The people of the Blue Mountains deserve better.”

Cr Greenhill said it was unfair that residents in eastern Sydney were protected by curfews at Kingsford Smith Airport, while people of western Sydney and the Blue Mountains would have to bear the brunt of a 24-hour airport.

“This airport is to be the first in the state to operate with no curfew. Why should one Sydney airport bear the burden of no curfew and not another,” he said.

The plans also put the area’s World Heritage listing under threat, he said, and could mean the loss of the tourism dollar for the region.

“Blue Mountains City Council opposes flight path activity being concentrated over the lower to mid Blue Mountains and the impact on our local community, quality of life and the environment. I will continue to fight for our Blue Mountains community and environment with every ounce of energy I have.”

Blacktown City Council also expressed significant concerns about the impact of the flight paths and lack of curfew on the LGA’s 415,000 residents.

“Council remains concerned that, as the airport grows, so will the adverse impacts, from which our residents must be protected,” Mayor Tony Bleasedale said.

Consultation promised

The minister admitted flights from the airport would “grow over time” and said the government will work with affected residents during the EIS process.

A draft EIS, to be released later this year, will address insulation and property acquisition.

“My department will hold community information and feedback sessions as well as community information stalls across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains over the coming months,” Ms King said.

“Communities will be able to find out more information and speak with the flight path design team at these events.”

The WSROC spokesman said the proposed flight paths would affect airport communities in different ways and different intensities.

WSROC says it will thoroughly assess all impacts as part of public consultation for the EIS and will undertake an expert review of the document on behalf of Western Sydney Councils.

The organisation was keen to work with the minister to ensure the environment is protected, proper infrastructure is in place, all potential health impacts are mitigated and that Western Sydney communities were given detailed consultation, the spokesman told Government News.

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