There is a note at the end of this morning’s SMH report on the ongoing NW rail project calamity which says New South Wales Infrastructure is a day away from recommending Badgerys Creek for Sydney’s urgently needed 2nd airport.
Badgerys Creek was named as the site for such an airport by Federal Labor in 1986, with the site purchased, and with work on supporting road infrastructure and final planning started, until the responsible Minister in the last Keating government, Laurie Brereton, stopped work on the project in 1995 “in order to fast track it”, as he said at the time in multiple radio, television and print interviews.
Since then Federal Labor, State Labor, and State Coalition governments have baulked at building the airport, with Federal Coalition governments ducking for cover whenever it is mentioned.
If the report as to NSW Infrastructure’s recommendation is correct, it will be made contrary to the policy pronouncements of the Federal Labor Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, and the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, but it is the only second airport site for Sydney that is already owned by government, and the only one that if developed could realistically and efficiently allow Sydney to grow its economy based on being the principal gateway to Australia and the leading location for the large corporate entities requiring efficient links to the rest of the country and the world.
Albanese, who is bound by Federal Labor policy to oppose Badgerys Creek, actually supports it, but dismissed an earlier independent Federal/State inquiry that also endorsed the site in January this year, and has commissioned a new ‘independent’ study into a site at Wilton, on the southern edges of the metropolitan sprawl, where a large housing estate is currently under construction.
There is no efficient option for the construction of an airport near Wilton, given the loss of the optimum area of flat land to housing, because of the undulating nature of the terrain, short of engaging in extraordinarily extensive large scale reshaping of the available areas to render them suitable.
All this at a site which in terms of inferior accessibility, is set up to be a mediocre project, if not an outright failure.
Meanwhile, Badgerys Creek, through a miracle of rail planning, is near the current intended terminus of the SW Rail project, which on opening in 2014 or 2015 will allow the same trains that pass through Sydney Airport to run a further 33 kilometres or so to the likely location of a 2nd airport terminal.
If the O’Farrell government wanted to seriously embarrass Federal Labor it could of course, embrace Badgery’s Creek for Sydney’s much needed 2nd airport, thus deflecting the mortifying deficiencies being pointed out by Minister Albanese, and the Sydney Morning Herald, in its rather whacky planning of a NW Rail link that will use uniquely small tunnels, involve standing up for one of the longest rail commutes in the metropolitan area, and terminate at Chatswood rather than make it all the way to the main CBD.
Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.