After more than fifty years of toing and froing, Sydney's second major airport is finally being built. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher today signed the final piece of paperwork approving construction of Badgery's Creek Airport, situated 50km west of Sydney's CBD.
"This is the most significant step taken by any government on this project," the Prime Minister said in a statement. "All the approvals are now in place [and] we can now get on with building the airport". Here's what you need to know...
Set to open sometime in the mid 2020s, the new airport's first 3.7 kilometre runway is expected to receive an estimated ten million passengers per year. A second runway is planned for 2050 which will boost the annual number to 37 million. By the time the airport is completed in 2063, it will fly a whopping 82 million passengers every year.
The airport will be constructed alongside related infrastructure projects, including an airport express rail service and station corridor. Western Sydney will also be receiving major road upgrades to accommodate the airport: The Northern Road between Narellan and Penrith will be widened to allow for extra road traffic, at a cost of $3.5 billion.
Badgerys Creek Airport has been a hot topic of debate since the concept was first touted in 1946. The potential impact on local flora and fauna remains vague, with Blue Mountains Council Mayor Mark Greenhill slamming the government's environmental plans as "incomplete". Few details have been released on how the airport may impact water, flora, fauna, noise, air quality or flight paths.
To the chagrin of many local residents, Badgery's Creek Airport will also be operating 24 hours a day. By contrast, Sydney's Mascot airport operates 16 hours a day. There's no telling how drastically aircraft noise will affect homes and businesses situated directly under the flight path. (Somewhat unhelpfully, the official Western Sydney Airport website simply instructs you to use a noise modelling tool to "assist in understanding potential noise exposure levels".)
For all the grumbling about aircraft noise, the construction of the airport is expected to improve the lot of current and future residents; at least when it comes to tourism and employment. According to government research, Stage 1 of the airport's construction will generate 2660 direct and indirect jobs in the peak year of construction activity, plus 8730 direct jobs in airport operations, and 4440 on-site business-park jobs by the early 2030s.
"As the proposed airport grows in response to increasing aviation demand, the economic and employment benefits will also increase. By the early 2060s, the proposed airport is forecast to generate over 60,000 direct jobs and $1.5 billion in value add for the Western Sydney region," claims the government.
What are your thoughts on Badgerys Creek Airport getting the final green light? Share your opinions in the comments section below!