Environmental impact statement for Western Sydney Airport released

The Western Sydney Airport Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been finalised.

This is an important milestone towards a Western Sydney Airport commencing operations in the mid-2020s, a critical project which will provide jobs and growth for Western Sydney and ensure long-term aviation needs are met.

The Government has carefully considered the submissions received on the draft EIS which was released in October 2015, particularly in relation to flight paths and noise impacts of aircraft. The final EIS contains significant changes from the draft EIS to reflect government decisions made in response to the submissions.

First, the final EIS states that there will not be a single merge point over Blaxland.

Secondly, the final EIS sets out broader principles in relation to flight paths for a Western Sydney Airport, including particularly that there will not be a single merge point over any residential community.

Thirdly, the final EIS sets out an important preferred option for ‘head to head operations’ during evening hours (11 pm to 6 am) as a means of minimising the number of homes affected by aircraft noise at night. Head to head operations will involve flights both taking off to, and landing from, the southwest of the runway in circumstances where it is safe to do so. There is more detailed work to do to analyse weather patterns and assess safety considerations, but indications are that this operating mode could be available greater than 80 per cent of the time.

The flight paths set out in both the draft and final EIS are only indicative, and were prepared for the specific purpose of determining whether safe operation of a second major airport in the Sydney Basin is possible, and for allowing an assessment of the environmental impact of Western Sydney Airport using a credible and representative set of operational parameters.

The EIS also sets out the process by which final flight paths will be determined, and that process will be subject to the policy decisions the Government has taken, for example, that there will not be a merge point over any single residential community. This is a multi-year process which will involve significant public consultation and advice from expert bodies such as Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

It’s important the proposed airport development maximises the benefits and minimises the impacts on both the community and the environment.

There are already extensive aircraft movements over the Blue Mountains—around 230 a day or a quarter of Sydney Airport’s daily traffic. After five years of operations, Western Sydney Airport is projected to represent just over 30 per cent of all flights over the Blue Mountains.

The EIS is a comprehensive assessment of the airport site at Badgerys Creek and the surrounding region, comprising more than 700 field studies and 19 technical reports. It sets out ways to protect the environmental value of the airport site and the surrounding Western Sydney region.

The Turnbull Government will also establish the Forum on Western Sydney Airport (FoWSA), a community and stakeholder reference group to ensure community views are taken into account, particularly in relation to the airspace design process.

The membership will include representatives from the aviation industry, community, state and local government bodies, and local tourism bodies and business groups.

The EIS will now be presented to the Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg who will determine whether to approve the EIS and what environmental conditions, if any, to impose.

Finalisation of the EIS is also a precondition for determining the Airport Plan, which can only occur following consideration of the EIS by Minister Frydenberg.

Work is underway to prepare the airport site, including clearing some structures and securing the site. Building and upgrading roads in the region has also commenced.

The $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan will ensure road connections are ready before the proposed airport opens, including the new M12 motorway between the M7 and The Northern Road.

The construction of the proposed Western Sydney Airport will generate $1.9 billion for the local economy, with a further $400 million across the rest of Sydney. Once operational, the proposed airport will bring an estimated nearly 9,000 jobs to Western Sydney by the early 2030s and some 60,000 in the long term.

The proposed Western Sydney Airport is expected to commence operations in the mid-2020s as a full-service, 21st‑century airport serving both domestic and international passengers as well as air freight.

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