Australian government approves construction of 2nd Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek
Date added: April 15, 2014
The Australian government has approved the construction of a 2nd large airport at Badgerys Creek, in western Sydney, about 45 km west of the central business district. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said planning and design work would start immediately, with construction expected to begin in 2016. The first flights might take place by the mid-2020s. Funding would come mostly from the private sector. The idea for this airport has been around for decades, but plans to put it at Badgerys Creek were shelved for fear of backlash from local voters. Mr Abbott has made it clear he wants a curfew-free airport, so it can have flights all night. Sydney’s current airport is only 8km away from the city and it operates with a curfew between 23:00 and 06:00. Opponents of building the airport at Badgerys Creek say there are better ways of dealing with airport capacity demand, by locating regional flights and cargo flights to two other nearby airports. Sydney airport already has 2 runways and is only up to 80 aircraft movements per hour during the morning and afternoon peaks. They say it is likely, due to pricing changes and competition, the new airport is unlikely to pay back its investors for years, and that proper studies of alternatives have not been looked at properly.
Is a second airport the best way to solve Sydney’s air travel congestion problems? Photo: Tamara Dean
Within weeks of taking office Treasurer Joe Hockey commissioned a Productivity Commission inquiry into the funding of infrastructure.
Its draft report released in March identified what it said was a classic example of how not to do it.
“The National Broadband Network, Australia’s largest public infrastructure project, was commenced without a cost-benefit analysis having been done,” it said.
“It also appears that detailed analysis of the project was focused, from a relatively early stage, on how best to implement the government’s policy objectives, rather than considering the merits of different options.”
It sounds like Badgerys Creek.
The Commission said the proper process was for the government to first work out what it wanted to achieve (such as moving planes or passengers quickly) and then work out the cheapest means of achieving it. It might be congestion taxes or time-of-day pricing.
Only then, if nothing else would do the job more cheaply, should it build something new.
To spend billions without first having precisely identified the problem and investigated cheaper ways of solving it would be to waste public money.
I am in possession of some back-of-the-envelope calculations done by a Sydney economist who has tried to do that for the Sydney Airport.
It is well located for travellers (much better than Badgerys Creek) but has a curfew and is limited to around 80 aircraft movements per hour.
It only ever reaches 80 aircraft movements during the morning and afternoon peaks. If regional aircraft were encouraged to move to Bankstown and cargo flights to move to Richmond the peaks would vanish.
Regional aircraft need only 1.8 kilometres of airstrip to takeoff. They don’t need to 2.5 and 3.96 kilometres available at Sydney airport. Squandering it on them is “an inefficient use of a scarce aviation asset”.
Regional aircraft typically carry fewer than 80 passengers. A Boeing B747 takes 396, an Airbus 330-300 takes 290. Allowing regional aircraft to use valuable landing slots at peak times means the airport is carrying many fewer passengers than it can.
Regional aircraft typically account for 20 per cent of movements at Sydney Airport.
Most could be banished to Bankstown if its runway was upgraded from 1.4 to 1.8 kilometres and its capacity lifted from 20 to 30 tonnes. A noise levy at the Bankstown and Sydney airports could pay for insulation in the affected homes. The training schools that presently use Bankstown could be moved to Camden.
With commendable understatement the economist says the costs would be “negligible compared to the cost of building a second airport at Badgerys Creek”.
And that’s just the start. Peak period charging could move non-time sensitive customers to other times of the day.
“Applying the laws of supply and demand to address capacity constraints could prove a unique experience for many stakeholders,” the economist says. “Not allowing pricing to ration the shortage of landing and takeoff slots during the peak periods means not using an existing asset efficiently and can no longer be justified.”
And the airlines themselves could reconfigure cabins to carry more customers by allocating seats more efficiently between business and economy class.
Trying all of these things first, as the Productivity Commission suggests, would postpone the need for a second airport. And they might make us realise we don’t really want it.
It’s worth asking who would use it.
The economist writes that Badgerys Creek will become a “spillover” airport.
“Passengers are unlikely to be impressed by the commute time from Badgerys Creek to the centre of Sydney.”
We will continue to want to use Sydney and the airlines will as well, just as they prefer Tullamarine to Avalon in Victoria.
The economist reckons the government has Buckley’s of getting its money back for decades.
“It is likely that Sydney Airport will commence pricing policies for the off-peak period to ensure that Sydney Airport does not suffer revenue leakage to Badgerys Creek,” he warns.
I don’t know whether that is right or not, but I would like to know the government had tried other solutions before settling on spending billions building a new airport in an inconvenient location.
As the Commission says, the first step is to identify the problem.
Tony Abbott confirms Badgerys Creek as site of second Sydney airport
Lisa Cox, James Massola
Badgerys Creek airport gets go-ahead
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces that Sydney’s second airport will be built in Badgerys Creek in western Sydney.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed a second airport for Sydney, triggering tens of millions of dollars of infrastructure investment for Sydney’s west.
After months of speculation, Badgerys Creek, 50 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, was approved by cabinet on Tuesday as the location of the airport.
Construction of the airport is expected to begin in 2016 and will spur the creation of up to 4000 construction jobs at its peak.
Mr Abbott said the bulk of the investment for the airport would come from the private sector, with government to take the lead on building surrounding infrastructure, including roads.
The cost of building the airport is estimated at $2.5 billion.
Sydney Airport has first right of refusal to build and operate the airport.
“It’s a long, overdue decision which, to be honest, has been shirked and squibbed by successive governments for far too long,” Mr Abbott said.
“I also want to stress that the government’s approach will be roads first, airport second, because we don’t want the people of western Sydney to have an airport without having the decent transport infrastructure that western Sydney deserves.”
Mr Abbott said the project would create 60,000 new jobs for western Sydney once the airport was fully operational.
The Prime Minister said details about how the infrastructure package will be funded will be made in the coming days.
It’s understood the federal and NSW governments are close to finalising a deal on how much federal money will be on the table.
An initial figure of $200 million that had been floated was insufficient in the view of the NSW government.
“I think this is a good news story for western Sydney,” Mr Abbott said.
“It’s good news for jobs and, because of the importance of Sydney in our national economy, it’s good news for Australia.”
Mr Abbott played down concerns that airport noise would become an issue at the new flightpath in the way it has for residents around Sydney Airport.
“I don’t believe this is going to be anything like the problem at Badgerys that it has been at Mascot,” he said.
“For a couple of reasons – first, because, quite frankly, people don’t want to travel in the middle of the night.
“And, second, because we are just dealing with far, far fewer people.
“If you look at the noise footprint, some 4000 people live within a Badgerys’ noise footprint.
“The equivalent footprint at Sydney is 130,000. So I just don’t think it’s going to be anything like the issue that it is elsewhere.”
Mr Abbott added: “We are certainly not saying there will be a curfew.”
Qantas immediately welcomed the announcement on Tuesday, with chief executive Alan Joyce describing Badgerys Creek as the right site.
“After decades of debate, we applaud today’s announcement by the Prime Minister,” Mr Joyce said.
“The role of second airports has been well-established in several of the world’s major capitals. Sydney is the key gateway for air traffic in and out of Australia and the benefits of having two major airports will be felt nationwide.”
Western Sydney Airport Alliance spokesman David Borger said the decision to build at Badgerys Creek was long overdue.
He said residents would support the decision because it will create jobs and raise living standards.
However, western Sydney Labor MP Ed Husic said locals are being “blackmailed”.
“They say ‘If you want better infrastructure you have to support the airport and by virtue of blocking the airport you won’t get better infrastructure’,” he told ABC Radio.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced $2.9 billion in new roads spending over the next eight years to support the construction of a new airport at Badgerys Creek, with NSW pitching in 20 per cent of the cost.
Construction of the airport is expected to begin in 2016 and will spur the creation of up to 4000 construction jobs at its peak.
Prime Minster Tony Abbott at Liverpool Council in western Sydney announces roads funding to support a second airport at Badgerys Creek Photo: Sasha Woolley
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell was expected to appear with Mr Abbott, but pulled out and then announced he was resigning as premier over revelations at the Independent Commission against Corruption.
Mr Abbott told a media conference at Liverpool Council on Wednesday that the funding was an ‘growth package’ for western Sydney.
The plan includes several major Sydney road upgrades, including expansion of The Northern Road to four lanes from Narellan Road to the M4.
The Prime Minister said Elizabeth Drive from the M7 to the Northern Road would be upgraded to “a very high standard” and there would also be an urgent overhaul of Bringelly Road to increase the thoroughfare to four lanes from Camden Valley Way to the Northern Road.
Mr Abbott said the NSW government would also immediately move to secure the rail corridor from the south-west rail link to Penrith, but Wednesday’s announcement included no funding details for such a proposal.
“These are vital pieces of road infrastructure and what they mean is that the announcement yesterday is not just an announcement about an airport, it is an announcement about jobs and infrastructure for western Sydney,” Mr Abbott said.
“This is a jobs and infrastructure package.
“There will be 4000 jobs in the short-term on road construction and over time, thanks to the development associated with the new airport, we believe there will be at least 60,000 more jobs in western Sydney.”
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the government was attracted to the idea of including a rail link in the airport’s design, but signalled that Badgerys Creek could open without a completed rail station.
He said any railway connection could be built under the runways, with space for an underground station.
“This line, though, will be built not essentially to service the airport, it will be built to service the people of western Sydney and the residential areas of western Sydney,” Mr Truss said.
“It is going to start as a modest airport operation.
“It is difficult to justify the cost of a railway line, specifically to service the airport at an initial stage. If you look at the experience around Australia, Melbourne doesn’t yet have a railway line to its airport. When an airport is starting small, usually the railway comes along later on.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Labor’s transport spokesman Anthony Albanese, who supports a second airport at Badgerys Creek, warned that a major airport at Badgerys Creek would not be viable without a rail link to Sydney’s CBD.
He attacked Mr Abbott’s “ideological objection” to rail and said a rail connection between the two airports and to the greater western line was essential.
“This has got to be not just about the airport,” Mr Albanese said.
“It’s got to be about jobs and economic development of related industries and innovation in western Sydney – part of that has to be a rail line. I don’t understand this ideological objection that Tony Abbott has to rail.
“You need rail as well as road in order for this airport to work.”
Mr Albanese was less forthcoming on Tuesday on the question of 24-hour operation.
“These issues will be examined in the environmental impact statement,” he said.
“It’s important that the community’s views on these issues be taken into account.”
Threat to a village called Wilton from proposed 2nd Sydney airport
14.4.2012There have been demands for many years for another airport for Sydney (Australia) as it is claimed that the current airport is nearly full, and that demand for flying is increasing fast, and will continue to do so. It is even predicted that it will quadruple by 2050. One possible site is called Badgerys Creek, not far from Sydney, though there are many problems with the site. Another potential site is Wilton, a village 80 kilometres south-west of Sydney. This is proving to be very controversial, and there is strong opposition building from local residents against having their homes destroyed, and their lives ruined, by having a massive new airport on their doorstep. Usual pressure by the aviation industry to press for more capacity, with the usual threats of economic doom etc if it is not built. Sounds familiar? They should twin Wilton with Sipson. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=1693..