Planning ‘should begin’ for new Perth airport

WA should begin planning by 2032 for a new airport in Perth, the state’s first ever long-term infrastructure strategy says.

Infrastructure WA CEO Nicole Lockwood

“Perth Airport is a critical transport hub, facilitating international, interstate and intrastate economic activity and trade,” the Infrastructure WA strategy says.

“Longer-term planning should consider the planned expansion of Perth Airport and the potential location for a new international airport to cater for long-term growth in demand.”

Infrastructure WA’s strategy, Foundations for a stronger tomorrow, was tabled in parliament on Wednesday.

The strategy provides the first ever outlook of Western Australia’s infrastructure needs over a 20-year horizon and makes 93 recommendations regarding infrastructure planning and investment.

Digitisation and climate change

Most of the recommendations are designed to manage future demand and get the most out of existing infrastructure assets, and relate to non-build initiatives.

Climate change, digital connectivity and empowering Aboriginal people are underlying themes.

Recommendations include boosting hydrogen infrastructure, supporting the carbon farming market, and planning for a third desal plant and a potential light rail network for Perth.

The plan also identifies the East Wanneroo Rail Link, Bunbury Faster Rail and Perth metropolitan orbital rail route as major projects worthy of investigation.

Other more general initiatives including boosting Aboriginal procurement and developing a digital-first smart infrastructure policy.

Aviation demands

The privately-owned Perth Airport is the fourth busiest airport in Australia. The airport says it has sufficient capacity meet projected demand over the next 40 years, but Infrastructure WA says even with proposed capacity upgrades, a new civil aviation airport may be required “in the very long term”.

“Proposed investment by Perth Airport in a third runway and the consolidation of passenger terminals by 2025 will help to ensure it can service WA’s aviation needs for well beyond 20 years,” the report says.

“But extensive lead times are needed for planning and delivering major airport infrastructure, and airport location has significant impacts on surrounding land use and development.

“As such, identifying and protecting suitable sites and corridors now for a new civil aviation airport for Perth represents good long-term planning and further work will need to be progressed.”

Consideration should also be given to a new general aviation airport, currently serviced by Jandakot Airport, which may be required within 20 years, the strategy says.

‘Significant step forward’

Chairwoman Nicole Lockwood said the strategy represents a significant step forward in the way government plans, delivers and manages infrastructure.

“It considers not only investment in new infrastructure, but how we can get more out of our current infrastructure,” she says.

“The strategy outlines how the digital technology adoption can ensure infrastructure lasts longer and operates more efficiently. It details how refreshing planning processes, policies and systems will streamline and improve effectiveness now and for future generations.”

The recommendations aren’t binding and the government says it will develop a  formal response over the next six weeks.

Recommendations include:

  • Developing a carbon farming and sequestration markets plan
  • Identifying major precincts, redevelopments and infrastructure to revitalise the Perth CBD
  • Investigating asset recycling by divesting ‘suitable’ assets to pay for more infrastructure
  • Accelerating a dedicated program of energy storage, micro-grids, virtual power plants and standalone power systems
  • Supporting the development of the state’s hydrogen industry by investigating the feasibility of large-scale hydrogen industry precincts and a staged program of hydrogen industry enabling infrastructure
  • continuing planning and business case development for a third desalination plant
  • investigating the potential for more local governments to participate in collective waste and resource recovery arrangements
  • Developing 20-year regional and metropolitan transport plans
  • investigating the feasibility of long term major projects: East Wanneroo Rail Link, Bunbury Faster Rail and Perth metropolitan orbital rail route
  • Develop a business case for light rail and/or bus rapid transit as the next stage of major public transport priority investment in Perth
  • Applying active transport infrastructure design guidelines to all state and local government projects
  • Planning for the long-term potential needs of a new civil aviation and general aviation airport for Perth

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