THE Australian Government last week said its plan for a Western Sydney airport has reached a significant milestone, with the conclusion of a nine-month consultation period with the Sydney Airport Group.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the Australian Government consulted with Sydney Airport Group on a full range of issues on how a new airport for Western Sydney will meet the growing needs of the region.
"We expect a Western Sydney airport, which could open for business within a decade, will handle up to five million passengers in its first year and grow steadily over time," Mr Truss said.
"An airport for Western Sydney will be a full-service airport capable of handling both domestic and international flights, meaning for the first time Western Sydney residents would be able to access air services quickly and easily.
"The end of this consultation phase completes the first element of the Commonwealth's contractual obligations under the right of first refusal process.
"We have afforded the owners of Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport the first opportunity to develop and operate a second major airport in the Sydney region as part of the terms of the 2002 sale agreement for Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport.
"The consultation process involved over 65 meetings over the nine-month period. The meetings allowed both parties to put forward views on the project and saw an open exchange of ideas.
"We will now work through the issues and review the range of options for an airport proposal that will meet Sydney's aviation capacity needs and deliver the best possible outcomes for the people of Western Sydney and the nation—including economic growth and job creation.
"We are aiming for a proposal setting out the Australian Government's terms, including technical specifications, contractual terms and a construction timetable, to be put to Sydney Airport Group as early as the end of this year."
Mr Truss added that during the consultation period the Australian Government undertook further studies to ensure full benefits could be delivered to the Western Sydney community.
"To support the consultations with Sydney Airport Group, detailed planning and analysis for an operational airport by the mid-2020s is progressing at pace, including the commencement of a new and robust environmental assessment," he said.
"The new airport environmental impact assessment involves a comprehensive examination of the site, including biodiversity and European and Indigenous heritage features, as well as updated noise contours and the development of flight paths.
"The draft Environmental Impact Statement will be open for public comment upon its release later this year."
More information is available from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development's Western Sydney Airport website at <http://westernsydneyairport.gov.au/>.