Mar 2, 2012

Badgerys Creek 1, Wilton 2, in 2nd Sydney Airport recommendations

By chance, the writer has only limited access to the internet until late tonight because of other commitments The joint NSW/Federal Steering Committee report on Sydney's air

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

By chance, the writer has only limited access to the internet until late tonight because of other commitments The joint NSW/Federal Steering Committee report on Sydney's airport needs strongly recommends Badgery's Creek as its most preferred option for a 2nd full scale Sydney Airport, and Wilton (near Appin) as its second. In releasing the report (see full statement later in this report) the Transport Minister Anthony Albanese categorically ruled Badgery's Creek out, and notes that the panel did not find worthwhile benefits from lifting the jet curfew or increasing the cap on hourly movements of 80 takeoffs and landings combined. The report sees merit in developing the rail infrastructure of the partially built SW Rail link to serve Badgery's Creek, which it seems to roll into the broader concept of an airport in the Nepean area, which it defines as including the Badgery's Creek site. An area in which the authors of the report and the Minister appear to be in complete agreement is the need to intervene in the management of Sydney Airport to achieve a much faster optimisation of the existing facilities to allow the airport to reach its full potential. Or in blunter language, the timetable should be one that suits airport users, not the shareholders who own Sydney Airport. It predicts that within a short period Sydney Airport will be patently unworkable because of access congestion as well as problems with the terminals, taxiways and other airline facilities within the airport site. It recommends immediately lifting the surcharge for using the Airport Rail link stations at the International and Domestic sides of the airport to bring fares to them in line with normal city rail fares, not just to benefit travellers but allow more than 20,000 airline employees to have a cheap alternative to driving to work and adding to traffic gridlock at the airport. The report finds that small turbo-prop airliners could be accommodated at Bankstown Airport at a frequency of up to 10 an hour.  While the CASA the safety regulator, and airliner insurers have been implacably opposed to the risks inherent in mixing general aviation and flying school with scheduled movements, it is an interesting part of the report, and of course, such risks are tolerated at Ballina and Port Macquarie in particular. A more controversial recommendation is to allow access to the existing short runway at the Richmond Air Force Base in Sydney's NW to jets up the same level of movements as the east-west runway at Sydney Airport. The E/W runway at Sydney Airport is actually much longer than that at Richmond, but it could accommodate medium sized jets flying shorter distances.  The report recognises a possibility of building a longer north-south runway at Richmond, which would be much more politically difficult given the large spread of housing estates in its path, and it acknowledges that such a developments at Richmond and Bankstown, either in total, or in part, could not provide a long term solution to the congestion issues at Sydney Airport. The Wilton site is discussed in some detail in the report, which does not at first reading, appear to recognise the large amount of new housing that is now selling on part of the land originally identified for an airport at Wilton when it was selected behind Badgery's Creek as a one/two list of options by the MANS or Major Airport Needs of Sydney report in the mid-80s. While the report could superficially be headlined as MANS revisited, some 26 years later, it is in fact much more substantial than that, with some invaluable insights into the current situation following such a long period of near total political neglect or inaction. The report should be downloaded by the chapter or in full from this page here. The statement by the Minister is published below.
The study, undertaken by an independent Steering Committee, shows with passenger demand in the Sydney region forecast to more than double by 2035 to 87 million passengers then double again by 2060, a long-term strategy is needed to meet this growth. The economic consequences of failing to increase capacity include: Australia is forecast to lose $6 billion in GDP by 2035 NSW is forecast to be hit hardest of all jurisdictions, losing $2.3 billion in GSP over the same period. The 3,000-page report makes a range of recommendations for action in three areas: to allow Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to operate to its full operational capacity, to protect and expand the role of other airports in the Sydney region, and to identify the site for a new airport to meet long-term growth. There is no doubt there are difficult issues to resolve but the report is clear on the cost of delaying action. Spare landing and take-off slots are already limited in the peak hours – by 2015 Sydney Airport will be severely constrained at peak times and by around 2030 no new growth will be possible. The Committee does not support any change to the curfew and also points out that with the airport already close to capacity, increasing the cap in peak hours would only buy as little as a year. I have already made it clear that the Federal Government will not make any changes to the current cap or curfew. We will also maintain the current protections for regional airlines and Bankstown Airport will not be developed as Sydney’s second airport. Further, I have consistently stated that the Government has ruled out the use of the Badgerys Creek site as a second airport and that remains our position. The Federal Government will now commence consideration of the Committee’s recommendations. I thank the Steering Committee for their comprehensive work and detailed consideration of the issues involved. I look forward to continuing to work with the NSW Government on this important issue. We are now seeking to establish a joint body with NSW to look at implementing a long-term strategy. This is a matter of importance for Australia and it needs a bipartisan approach.

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10 thoughts on “Badgerys Creek 1, Wilton 2, in 2nd Sydney Airport recommendations

  1. TT

    Makes me wonder why successive Federal / NSW Government procrastinate so long for the 2nd SYD airport? Perhaps they try to avoid compensation payout to Sydney Airport for their lost in revenue once the 2nd airport is up and running (assuming they didn’t take up the rights to operate 2nd airport).

    May be the Government don’t want to spend up for the supporting infrastructure (roads, rail, utilities…), but then I would have thought PPP, BOOT or other private investment options would have overcome such problems.

    Would it be Badgery’s Creek, Wilton, Appin (or other possible sites) are on marginal seats? I am surprised if voters are concerned especially if Federal Government owns the land at Badgery’s Creek for a long long time for airport use. Anyone who built houses near such site in the last 20 years would be naive not to expect an airport will be built at some stage.

    It does begs me wonder: can’t Governments make an executive decision and then move on, make it happen, and then deal with the next transport issue in Government’s agenda?

  2. Aidan Stanger

    Ben, the link you supplied doesn’t work. The correct URL is

  3. R. Ockape

    “I have already made it clear that the Federal Government will not make any changes to the current cap or curfew.

    We will also maintain the current protections for regional airlines and Bankstown Airport will not be developed as Sydney’s second airport.

    Further, I have consistently stated that the Government has ruled out the use of the Badgerys Creek site as a second airport and that remains our position.”

    Statements such as this are the very definition of political paralysis. To paraphrase, the current government plans to do absolutely nothing. They will not move on capacity constraints, either as a result of movement limits or curfews at Kingsford Smith, and will not consider changes at Bankstown or a new airport at Badgery’s Creek. Utterly amazing when you think of it in these terms! Another wasted report and another waste of taxpayers’ money.

  4. NeoTheFatCat

    To be fair, Governments of all persuasions are reluctant to take on any infrastructure project that involves:

    – potential losers in the community,
    – financial risks, either through direct hits to the budget or indirect hits through failed PPP arrangements, or
    – offending rent seekers, who can fund advertising and astro-turfing campaigns to defeat even the best of Government intentions.

  5. Mark Newton

    The MANS report that recommended Badgery’s Creek was released in 1970. Over 40 years ago.

    Worth pointing out that that time period probably encompasses the entire careers of the politicians and bureaucrats charged with making a decision about it: They can literally not remember a time when people haven’t been telling them to build an airport at Badgery’s Creek.

    Over that time, the existing Mascot Airport has scaled to cope with the load.

    Thus, anyone looking at the plurality of reports released about airport expansions over the years could, with the benefit of hindsight, conclude that they weren’t needed.

    So it becomes tempting to say the next report released about airport expansions also isn’t needed.

    This pattern will continue until Mascot undergoes functional collapse. At that point, the clock will start ticking on the 10-to-15-year process of establishing a new airport. Not before.

    – mark

  6. Geoff

    The only option left after the NSW Labor Party has denied all of the other options is to continue to fill in Botany Bay. This will happen step by step as capacity and demand ie the market, continue to put pressure on Sydney Airport.

    First of all the gap between the parallel runways will be filled and new terminals built (access already available via GH Drive) so that the northern end can become a servicing area again. Not much can happen between the container terminal and 34R/16L but on the other side of 34L/16R there is plenty of room for the airport to creep slowly towards Brighton-Le-Sands. A third runway is a pipe dream but if as Ben says the aircraft keep getting bigger it will be terminal space that is needed.

    This is the Law of Inevitability! When capacity is constrained and the Bankstown/Richmond/Badgery’s Creek options ruled out yet again then it must happen!

  7. Chad Henshaw

    So basically we’re exactly where we were 20 years ago. We know a new airport is required, we know where it needs to be built, but no-one has the backbone to build it.

  8. Merve

    A Liberal Party politican calls for a Bi Partisan approach to what is largely a political problem. Very sensible, becuase without bi partisan this problem won’t be solved. In this current political climate of never, ever given an opponent an inch, that won’t happen. To get some bipartisan, you have to give bipartisan.

  9. michael r james

    “….the very definition of political paralysis”

    Unless this federal government–the same one that pulled the NBN out of their policy banks–has something more radical in mind. In fact something that has even been hinted at and for which other reports have been tabled.

    Of course, the east coast HSR that would effectively make Canberra airport (or I suppose at a stretch, Newcastle) Sydney’s second airport.

    If you look at the 40 years of indecision and the estimated $6B p.a. lost to the economy if nothing is done. Look at those estimated doublings and redoubling of pax numbers. And all the inestimable economies of a HSR etc etc. It is not as unaffordable as the Luddites think. I can’t imagine it can be announced in this term but it might be another reason to wish for another term of what is turning out to be a progressive & reforming government.

  10. fractious

    Geff @ 6, I don’t know how serious you’re being, but the environmental impacts on Botany Bay alone would be sufficient (not to mention the community opposition) to rule that out. Even dismissing environmental and social costs, building a new runway won’t fix supporting infrastructure limitations – already clogged arterial and service roads, car parks at or near capacity and no room to expand, piss-poor rail services (even assuming somebody does something about the shocking gouging) and a cramped location that could not foreseeably be expanded further in the future.

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