(Pic courtesy Daily Telegraph Newspaper)
Does Sydney need a second airport, and if yes, where?
This debate has been going on for decades. It is about time that Govt starts a real action.
Kingsford Smith Airport (KSA) will not be able to provide new slots for any airline beyond 2027, while number of passengers will keep growing. 87 million passengers are expected to use KSA by 2035, and these numbers will double by 2060. The capacity deficit in landing slots beyond 2027 will adversely impact NSW/Australian economy. $60 billion is the cost by 2060 due to capacity constraints at KSA.
Capacity constraints can be ameliorated to some extent if landing/taking off curfew at KSA between 11PM to 6AM can be relaxed or removed. This is not practical because this curfew is part of an Act, and it will not be allowed by people living near KSA.
This is thus clear that Sydney needs a second airport. There is no further capacity at 900 ha KSA to build new runways or extend its operation.
Badgerys Creek, a 1700 ha land in South West Sydney, can be a good site for second airport. The land is owned by Commonwealth, and has been meant to be used for 2nd airport. It was acquired wayback in 1986-91. Wilton near Campbelltown is not as good a site as Badgerys Creek is, because it will require much bigger cost in building an airport and the associated infrastructure. Badgerys Creek can be built and be in operation in 10 years, while Wilton will take 17 years.
Badgerys Creek is therefore the only realistic site at present for Sydney’s second airport.
Studies have shown that an airport in Western Sydney will generate 28000 jobs by 2050, and add billions to the economy. It will supercharge the economy in Western Sydney.
Western Sydney has higher unemployment rates, and there are pockets where upto 30% are unemployed.
It is expected that here will be 500,000 job deficit in Western Sydney by 2050.
Western Sydney needs major infrastructure projects to turbo-charge economy and create jobs.
An airport in Badgerys Creek is definitely one such infrastructure. An airport alone somewhere in the middle of paddock in Western Sydney will not be enough. The region needs road and rail network, linking it with South West Rail link and possibly NW Rail Link. Roads in the region will need to upgraded and linked with M4, M5 and M7. It will cost money, which needs to come from Federal and State funding. That is where it becomes necessary for Commonwealth and NSW Govt to work co-operatively for the sake of Western Sydney region and its residents.
Western Sydney can’t be ignored because its people are not second class, and it is the engine-head of NSW economy. Recent survey has suggested its economic growth to be far superior to North Sydney and Sydney CBD. Some area within Western Sydney had economic growth rate above 6%, while CBD grew by about 1% only.
NSW economy needs Western Sydney!
Recent surveys have found that majority of people in Western Sydney support an airport in Western Sydney. Many councils including Liverpool Council and Holroyd Council are sympathetic to Badgerys Creek Airport.
NSW ALP and its leader, John Robertson, and federal ALP Opposition leader, Bill Shorten, are in support. Deputy PM, Warren Truss, Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and PM, Tony Abbott, are in support for the second airport. There appears to be a bipartisan support federally. Mulgoa MP, Mrs Tanya Davies, is in support. Penrith Council Mayor is sympathetic. Many federal MPs like Craig Lundy and Alex Hawke are supporting it, but others like Fiona Scott, Chris Bowen and Ed Husic are apparently opposed to it.
People living in Western Sydney will need to lobby their State and Federal MPs, and local Councils to get them behind an airport in Western Sydney.
Initially, NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell was against such airport, and was in favour of extension/upgrade of Canberra airport for this purpose, but this proposition is not being favoured by anyone, because of distance and $8-10 billion cost in providing a high-speed rail between Canberra and Sydney.
It is about time that leaders from all persuasions and all tiers of Govt start working co-operatively for the interest of Western Sydney region and its residents!
I see merit in the demands of Western Sydney Airport Alliance, asking for a definitive announcement of Badgerys Creek Airport soon (if we want aeroplanes to start Flying from Badgerys Creek Airport by 2027), establishing a dedicated “Western Sydney Airport Authority” and starting community awareness/consultation about technical aspects of the airport, not the site per se.
Badgerys Creek is practically and realistically the only site for an airport in Western Sydney.
To avoid any political implication for any Party, let there be a bipartisan announcement from leaders which should include Prime Minister, NSW Premier, Leader of Federal Opposition, and Leader of NSW Opposition.
Dr Yadu Singh/5th March, 2014