Wednesday, 29 March 2017 12:21

Message from the President: Airport essentials must be locked down

Aeroplane landing. Aeroplane landing.

The Australian and NSW Governments have frequently touted the significant potential a Western Sydney Airport creates for the development of the region’s economy and infrastructure, with flow-on effects for the entire Sydney basin.

However good outcomes – jobs, economic development and infrastructure – will not just fall into our laps. Realising the potential of Western Sydney Airport, and delivering on the outcomes promised, will require unprecedented levels of investment, planning and coordination to achieve.

Support or opposition to the airport aside, the collective view of local government in Western Sydney is that planning for this project to date has been lacking.

The Airport Plan and Environmental Impact Statement provided very little detail, very few assurances, and a significant lack of consideration of the impacts of an airport (both positive and negative) beyond the areas immediately adjoining the airport precinct.

As an organisation representing nine Western Sydney councils, WSROC has a duty of care to its residents. We have a responsibility to ensure that any airport built in Western Sydney offers the best outcomes for the region’s economy, residents and environment.

Any large piece of infrastructure, especially airports, will have both positive and negative effects that ripple out from the local vicinity and into the surrounding region. Taking these effects into account is essential for determining who benefits and who pays – particularly what might be done to offset the negative effects of such infrastructure.

Western Sydney has much to gain if this project goes well, but also the most to lose if this project does not address the question of equity.

With this in mind, WSROC has outlined the following conditions on which the success of Western Sydney Airport hinges. We believe these conditions are reasonable, in line with best-practice, and will ensure the best outcomes not just for Western Sydney, but our entire city.

 

During the planning and construction phases and after commencing operations a Western Sydney Airport (WSA) must:

1. Be optimised to contribute to the economic growth and development of Western Sydney. This means being integrated into the wider rail and transport network, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and a strategic plan for development.

2. Deliver equity, fairness and maintain quality of life for the whole Sydney basin and the Blue Mountains.

3. Adhere to stringent environmental controls, including protection of the UNESCO listed Blue Mountains Greater World Heritage Area.

4. Ensure equitable outcomes for all residents by designing flight paths that limit the noise exposure of any single community.

5. Include an employment plan that supports Western Sydney jobs through apprenticeships, traineeships and prioritising local workers.

6. Be supported by a procurement policy that preferences Australian manufacturing and services, and supports the Western Sydney economy.

7. Include non-road options (pipeline or rail) for the delivery of fuel to the airport and one option to be implemented in time for the opening of the airport.

 

Sydney’s second airport will undoubtedly be built in Western Sydney, however without the aforementioned conditions being met, the Australian and NSW Governments cannot continue to claim that the proposed airport is for Western Sydney – its businesses, its residents, or its environment.

At the very minimum, a long-term plan for the region’s economic development, an integrated transport network, and the protection of impacted communities (residential and environmental) must be in place if this airport is to be a success. However, we should be aiming for more than the bare minimum. Western Sydney deserves more, and Sydney, as a global city, demands more.

Given the complexity of the project, coordinated, precinct-level planning (as seen in the development of the Sydney Bays Precinct) will be required to get this project off the ground. WSROC would strongly support the development of a dedicated ‘Western Sydney Airport Precinct Development Corporation’ to manage the development with the prerequisite that it includes strong local government representation.

The success of Western Sydney is inseparable from the success of Sydney more broadly. We can’t afford to leave this project to chance or hope. If significant investment is going to be made, it must be made with the utmost care to ensure a fair distribution of benefits and burdens. Anything less would be doing our city a disservice.

 

Last modified on Friday, 31 March 2017 16:07