Sydney is a 2017 Budget winner, as the Federal Government announces a $5.3 billion allocation for the Badgerys Creek Airport project in Western Sydney.
Set for completion in 2026, Badgerys Creek will open up Sydney’s west through a major airport spanning a site of 1,800 hectares. Planning to provide services for 10 million passengers, Badgerys Creek Airport will operate on a 24 hour basis. It will not adopt the 11am-6pm curfew like their Sydney Airport counterparts.
The Commonwealth will create a government-owned corporation – the Western Sydney Airport Corporation – to operate the new airport.
The announcement is long overdue – a second airport for Sydney was first proposed back in 1969. The Hawke Government announced the site of Badgerys Creek in 1986, and started to purchase land plots. Construction commenced in 1992, with an expected completion date in 1995, but concerns with aircraft noise placed this on delay. In 1996, the Howard Government considered Holsworthy as an alternative site, completely abandoning Badgerys Creek four years later.
In 2007, support grew again for an airport in Western Sydney. Kingsford Smith Airport was showing signs of congestion, a phenomenon Badgerys Creek now plans to address. A report by State and Federal Governments found that Sydney needed a second airport by 2030, listing Badgerys Creek and Wilton as potential locations. Support grew over the next few years until 2014, when the Abbott Government announced Cabinet approval for Badgerys Creek. Residents were given the deadline to move in December that year, and significant amounts of litigation followed over evictions. Over the next few months, further details were planned out until the airport was finally approved in December 2016.
It will be interesting to see the impact of U.S.-based security giant Northrop Grumman on the project. They are expected to be the first tenant in the airport’s new defence precinct with the construction of a $50 million Electronic Sustainment Centre of Excellence. With the aim of supporting electronic warfare, and maintaining aircraft such as the F35 Joint Strike Fighter and the MQ-4C Triton recon drone, we are already seeing the early stages of joint civil-military partnership in the development of this project.
The airport expects to bring much needed developments, but some have expressed concerns with many of its aspects.
John Wagner, the man behind the construction of the Brisbane-West Wellcamp Airport near Toowoomba, argues that “[the Government’s] procurement process and finances… [means] it could take a lot longer [to build] than it needs to.” He believes the airport could be ready in three years, and expressed willingness to build and run the final product. The tourism and business sectors also expressed concern of the lack of funding for a rail link to the airport. This is critical given that the site is 60 kilometres away from the CBD. Margy Osmond of the Tourism and Transport Forum expressed this disappointment, arguing that “developing an easier-to-use and integrated public transport network will make Sydney a better place to live, work and, crucially, visit.”
The Badgerys Creek Airport site will generate a flurry of activity over the next few years and many considerations demand attention.
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