I attended the Council run Badgerys Creek Taskforce Meeting on Wednesday 6th May and just this morning I received a Community Update on the Western Sydney Airport Department of Infrastructure; http://www.westernsydneyairport.gov.au/
PDF Download here:
Brian Greeves from Aviation Solutions presented a PowerPoint presentation on the proposed Airport and what would be required. Brian is the founding director of Aviation Solutions (AVSOLS) and has over forty years’ experience as a pilot, having flown over 40 aircraft types and accumulated nearly 15,000 flying hours, including 10,000 in command. Prior to forming AVSOLS, he was a Senior Captain with Cathay Pacific Airways and also flew with the Royal Air Force and other airlines. He is still rated on the Airbus 330 aircraft. He now provides aviation consultancy services and training to a number of organisations and companies in Australia and outside.
Some of the points Brian briefed us on :
- Airport Needs – Good infrastructure, Transport links, Terminals, Air traffic, Runways and Taxiways. Airport to be built to International Standards
- How to mitigate weather – positioning of runways
- How to mitigate aircraft noise – New technologies, Flight paths, Noise Reports
- Traffic Management – using new technologies
- Aircraft Technologies – Reduced thrust take offs, aerodynamic designs, turbo fan engines and lining engines
- Environmental Planning for Badgerys Creek – Planning and Environmental Impact Assessment
- Socio-Economic – Easy access, Job creation, Aviation related industries and other business/pleasure uses.
Whilst Brian’s presentation was informative and his experience with not just flying planes but also designing Airports internationally was extremely interesting some of the concerns we raised were:-
Noise control and Curfews
Whilst I agree that current airliners are indeed quieter than they were 20 to 30 years ago the argument must still be made that if they are going to operate a 24/7 airport are we not going to be subject to more noise?
I thank goodness for the input from Councillor Harle on this aspect as he has many years experience in noise control and monitoring. He raised a very salient point, that while it is documented that the current A330 Airbuses may have a decibel reading of less than 90dB (10dB less than a petrol operated leaf blower at full blast!) these readings are monitored during daylight hours where the surrounding ambient noise (i.e. background noise is usually around 60dB or more, that is a 30dB difference, very noticeable! However in the evenings especially after around 10:00pm the ambient (or background) noise drops to around 30dB, (equivalent to whispering) and even less in rural areas, that makes the difference of 60dB much more noticeable especially for flights arriving or departing in the early hours of the morning.
Another point he raised is that if the airport were to operate 24/7 this would mean that aircraft operating after midnight would more than likely be cargo freighters, usually older converted passenger aircraft and generally considerably noisier compared to modern passenger aircraft. Statistics for Kingsford Smith Airport indicate that 24/7 operation would only increase passenger aircraft movements (after midnight and before 6:00am) by less than 10%. Most passengers don’t like arriving or departing after midnight!
The question must be asked “Governments provided residents surrounding Kingsford Smith with double glazing to mitigate some of the noise, will the same offer be made to those 300 or so residents around the Greendale Area ”? Currently anyone living in the ANEF affected areas have to fund their own noise mitigation measures such as double glazing.
I have also heard on many radio stations and general public comments such as “this airport has been in the pipeline for well over 30 years and rural residents should have known this was coming”, well my response to these statements (as someone who lived under an airport corridor for 7 years in the 60’s) the same could be said for all the surrounding residents around the existing airport, the airport was there first and they chose to live there. So why is it OK for us to endure a 24 hour 7 day a week operation when they will not lift the curfew for Kingsford Smith?
South West Growth Centre
I voiced my concerns that if an airport was to be constructed at Badgerys Creek then State Government would have to re think the proposed SWG (where it is anticipated an additional 300,000 people over the next 20 to 30 years will be living in the South West) are we simply not creating another Mascot?
Much has been touted about the orientation of the runway and to date it has been stated the runway would be North East to South West. However, according to aviation experts the optimum runway orientation is North to South, however, the Federal Government does not own enough land to accommodate this orientation. Does this mean more land will be required?
Viability of Airport
Concerns were raised that if the airport only consisted of one runway it would not be a viable operation for an International Airport and could it turn into a low cost budget airport such as Avalon? Also if there was insufficient traffic infrastructure such as very fast trains or direct trains that traffic congestion would be no different than the current problems being encountered at Mascot?
Brian agreed with all these concerns and also agreed that the opportunity presents itself that with good planning, good infrastructure and new technology methods Badgerys could be a state of the art Airport but it must be done right.
On the 1st May 2015 a NSW Business Chamber Western Sydney Airport Conference was held and 5 representatives from Liverpool Council attended, it was unfortunate that the public did not have the opportunity to attend as I would have liked to have heard comments first hand. I did listen to some of the comments made on radio by some of the expert speakers that concerned me. One speaker made a statement on radio that the proposed airport would have to be a 24/7 operation to make it a viable proposition and he believes this would only affect about 300 residents and then in the next interview he stated it would only affect around 3,000 residences. I did query these figures with Council reps as with the onset of the South West Growth Centre these figures appear very low and was assured that these figures were derived from reliable sources.
So what we know at this stage:
The EIA has commenced and soil core drilling of the airport site has also commenced, it is envisaged Community consultation on the draft EIA will commence late 2015 and be finalised shortly thereafter.
- Macquarie Bank (current owners and operators of Kingsford Smith) have until the end of August to take up the offer of building and operating the proposed new Airport at Badgerys Creek.(Many experts believe they will take up the offer)
- Many residents on Badgerys Creek Road have vacated and those residences have been demolished, all residents have to vacate Federally owned residences by June 30th – It has been stated that Badgerys Creek Road will be closed to through traffic at the end of June
- Construction work has commenced on Bringelly Road upgrade
- No qualifiable information has been released regarding rail corridors or rail services to the airport
- There has been no definite information on the orientation of the runway at this stage (the current plan is NW to SE) nor has there been any determination on the amount of runways, however, it has been stated that there will only be one runway to start and a further runway added as the Airport grows.
I have two train of thoughts on the proposed Airport;
This could be one of the best infrastructure projects of its time for not just NSW but Australia, however, only and I repeat only if it is done properly, with Community consultation, fast and reliable infrastructure and not just a single runway shed operation like Avalon. I have huge reservations that if the project goes ahead without proper planning and consultation it may well be a white elephant and if there is one thing this state or this area does not need is any more costly wasteful half-baked projects.
I am also thoroughly disappointed in our Mayor, who prior to being elected ran on the platform of “No Airport at Badgerys Creek” and within 6 months of being elected, decided that Badgerys Creek was the obvious choice for not only an airport but also an Intermodal and an Industrial Estate. He clearly has no concern for rural residents nor the rural environment – At every opportunity the Mayor tries to sell Liverpool CBD and Georges River as the centre pieces for Liverpool whilst “dumping” in our back yard. The rural area of Liverpool LGA is one of the closest and largest profitable agricultural areas located near Sydney and should also be valued.
Let’s not fool ourselves into believing there was an overwhelming majority of residents in favour of the airport, Councils’ somewhat biased survey indicated 58% supported the airport, that is hardly an overwhelming majority!
That’s it for this month, will update again next month.