By Angela Dorizas
The Federal Government has endorsed the development of a second airport for Sydney, in an aviation green paper released today.
The Federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, said a second airport was required to address capacity constraints at the Mascot domestic and international airport in south Sydney.
“I think it is time to make sure we get the decision right and that when a decision’s made we get on with the job,” Mr Albanese told ABC Radio.
“It is quite clear that Sydney airport is nearing capacity, the peak hours at Sydney airport have expanded substantially, there is pressure on the cap and curfew at Sydney airport, both of which the government is committed to maintaining, and there are economic reasons why Sydney needs a second airport."
Possible sites for Sydney’s second airport are yet to be announced, but Badgerys Creek in south-west Sydney has already been ruled out. The green paper stated that constructing the airport at Badgerys Creek was “no longer an option” and future use of the site was “subject to further consideration.”
Mayor of Penrith City Council Jim Aitken told Government News that the community was still divided over the Badgerys Creek site
“Our council has always been against it,” Cr Aitken said. “But there are different views within our community.”
Cr Aitken said that the Badgerys Creek site was likely to be used as an industrial area, but that was “still up in the air.” He said it was unlikely that the Federal Government would select a suitable location for the second Sydney airport anytime soon because they were “lacking vision and foresight”.
The New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees has proposed that the airport be constructed outside of the Sydney basin, suggesting Williamtown in the Hunter region as one potential site.
“Were we to move to a second airport, I think Williamtown is the ideal location,” he said at a press conference in Sydney.
“I’d like to see the Hunter region pumped up very significantly, but that has got all sorts of other ramifications and we’d have to work it through with the Federal Government.”
Hawkesbury City Council was quick to dissuade the Commonwealth from selecting the RAAF base at Richmond, with Mayor Bart Bassett reminding the Rudd Government of a pre-election promise.
“We call on the Federal Government to commit to the promise made before the election to protect and enhance the RAAF base,” Cr Bassett told Government News.
He said council voted unanimously against the site being developed into a secondary airport for Sydney, as the community was generally opposed to the idea.
Cr Bassett said the construction of an extra runway would threaten the historic towns of Windsor and Richmond. He said it would also affect the regions's air and water quality – the same resons cited for the decision against Badgerys Creek.
Camden is another location that has been floated in media reports, but Camden Council said it was opposed to the suggestion. Mayor of Camden Council, Chris Patterson, told Government News that the development of a major airport would impact upon existing and future residents, and the state government's land release.
"We've had no consulation on the issue and we would not support the issue," Cr Patterson said.
"Hold off on the airport and give us a train line instead."
The aviation green paper also called for greater consultation between all spheres of government and the community, when planning and developing Australia’s aviation infrastructure. Mr Albanese said any development on airport land should “not be approved in isolation state and local planning laws" and should be integrated with surrounding community infrastructure.
“The green paper doesn’t propose changing the final decision making process that would reside with the Commonwealth Government, as with other Commonwealth land controlled entities,” Mr Albanese said.
“But it means having proper consultation not just with state and local government, but also with local communities around airports, who I think have felt pretty frustrated at some of the past decisions that have been made and we need to do much better."
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at email@example.com.
Sign up to the Government News newsletter