Monday, 30 November 2015 10:31

Independent review found gaps to be addressed

Aeroplane landed at sunset. Aeroplane landed at sunset. Source: Western Sydney Airport Draft EIS Peer Review

Regional traffic congestion, final flight paths and environmental impacts are some of the issues requiring further consideration following an independent review of the Western Sydney Airport Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The review was funded by 11 councils across Greater Western Sydney and conducted by WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff in collaboration with a number of specialist consultants.

The review looked at nine key issues identified by participating councils as key to the success of an airport at Badgerys Creek. These included: 

  • Noise
  • Air quality and greenhouse gases
  • Traffic, transport and access
  • Human health
  • Aviation planning
  • Social and economic impacts
  • Surface water and groundwater
  • Greater Blue Mountains impacts
  • Biodiversity

The peer review found that the Draft EIS did not always adhere to EIS Guidelines, did not conform to best practice in many areas, lacked detailed modelling and contained information gaps for several key assumptions.

WSROC President, Cllr Tony Hadchiti has indicated his disappointment at the lack of certainty offered by the EIS on key issues such as aircraft noise, flight paths, traffic, transport, and the environment.

“WSROC has previously offered conditional support for the airport, pending a comprehensive Airport Plan and a rigorous EIS that ensures the best possible outcomes for residents and the environment while realising the economic prosperity and job creation opportunities from the airport,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“In our opinion the Draft EIS does not meet this mark. The independent review has highlighted a significant level of uncertainty regarding the effects of the airport on our region, and we hope the Australian Government can offer further clarification in its final version of the EIS,” he said.

“Most of all, we are disappointed that raw data on which conclusions are based was not made available to the review team and it is obvious that the rigour required for assessing such a critical project has been sacrificed in the name of expediency and speed,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

Some of the issues identified in the Draft EIS document include:

  • The Draft EIS does not confirm the purpose (or role) of Western Sydney Airport (WSA) and its relationship to Kingsford Smith Airport (KSA) in the immediate, mid and longer terms.
  • A general lack of transparency. The raw data on which conclusions are based was not made available to the independent review team.
  • The Draft EIS states the flight paths shown are an ‘indicative’ ‘proof of concept’. As a result the Draft EIS does not and cannot properly analyse the adverse impacts to the environment and the community or confirm how these will be mitigated.
  • No justification was provided for the flight paths suggested in the draft Airport Plan. The Draft EIS does not explain why this design was chosen and does not indicate whether any further options were considered or modelled.
  • The Draft EIS does not adequately consider the cumulative effect of projects associated with the Western Sydney Airport such as the Northern Road upgrades, the recently announced South West Priority Area, or the M9 Orbital on traffic congestion, noise or air pollution – it considers the airport in isolation, not real world conditions.
  • The Draft EIS provides no assessment of the material impacts of aircraft noise on communities and families and as a result can’t offer specific mitigation measures or noise limitations that must be adhered to.
  • No detailed modelling of traffic and transport was conducted for this project as is common practice for other projects such as the WestConnex, North West Rail Link and South West Rail Link.
  • Claims being made by the Commonwealth Government about economic generation and job creation have not been explicitly tested in the Draft EIS. Potential adverse impacts are briefly stated with little assessment of their implications or level of significance.
  • The Draft EIS’ conclusion that there would be low noise impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area was not adequately justified and does not consider the value of the natural soundscape to the community and the region’s significant tourism economy.
  • Social determinants of health have not been considered. For example equitable access to employment and impacts on the amenity of local communities because of traffic generation associated with the airport and the surrounding enterprise precinct.
  • The Draft EIS assumes a rail service supporting the airport at some point in time but does not indicate when or how this will be funded.

Councils who jointly funded the review include: Auburn, Camden, Campbelltown, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Fairfield, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith and Wollondilly. The review was coordinated by WSROC and the Macarthur Regional Organisation of Councils (MACROC).

In addition to this primary review, WSROC’s regional waste teams are in the process of conducting a separate review surrounding waste and resource recovery as presented in the Draft EIS. Results are expected to be released shortly.

WSROC will be writing its submission in response to the Draft EIS over the coming weeks.

Please find a copy of the Western Sydney Airport EIS independent peer-review via the below links.

Western Sydney Airport EIS peer review - Part A
Western Sydney Airport EIS peer review - Part B

For further information on the Australian Government's process regarding the construction and operation of the proposed Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek visit westernsydneyairport.gov.au.

The consultation period for the draft Western Sydney Airport Environmental Impact Statement closes December 18, 2015. Those wishing to make a submission can visit the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website for further information.

Last modified on Thursday, 03 December 2015 11:45