A new airport at Badgerys Creek would be an infrastructure package for Western Sydney that was “roads first, airport second” according to the Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday. Today he is expected to announce with the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell that $3.5bn would be provided to fund these roads, with 80% being paid for by the federal government and the remainder by the state government. According to the Daily Telegraph, these include:
No federal funding will be provided for rail infrastructure, with Mr Abbott maintaining his commitment to leave the funding of urban commuter rail exclusively to the states. However, there are also plans for an extension of the currently under construction South West Rail Link (SWRL) through to Badgerys Creek Airport, then through to the Western Line via a rail tunnel under the airport. Concerns have been raised that if this rail tunnel is not built concurrently with the airport then the cost of doing so would rise by billions of dollars.
However, although a SWRL extension has been identified as a corridor that needs to be protected, it has not actually yet been protected. Nor has a corridor from Badgerys Creek to the Western Line nor an Outer Sydney Orbital for a future M9 freeway that would link a Badgerys Creek airport both North and South.
The decision to go with Badgerys Creek is the final nail in the coffin for Wilton as a potential airport site. Wilton was not only much further away from the Sydney CBD than Badgerys Creek, but it did not benefit from proximity to Western Sydney as Badgerys did. This is what separates Badgerys Creek from Avalon in Melbourne, to which it is often compared to. Due to the location of Melbourne’s two airports, there are few parts of the city which are closer to Avalon than the main Tullamarine Airport. However, in Sydney anywhere West of Parramatta is closer to Badgerys Creek than Kingsford-Smith at Mascot.
This proximity to urban settlement has also been posed as one of Badgerys’ main disadvantages, primarily due to aircraft noise. However, according to Bob Meyer, Planning Director with Cox Richardson Architects and Planners, the noise impact from Badgerys Creek would be significantly lower than that from Kingsford-Smith, with aircraft noise from Kingsford-Smith affecting inner city residents by a factor of 30 to 100 times as much as a Badgerys Creek Airport would affect Western Sydney residents:
“At the 2011 census, at Badgerys Creek Airport, there were 2,913 dwellings within the 20 ANEF contour and 328 dwellings within the 25 ANEF contour.
At the 2011 census, at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, there were 86,017 dwellings within the 20 ANEF contour and 29,457 dwellings within the 25 ANEF contour.” – Bob Meyer, A Sydney West Airport, p. 5 (2013)
This is largely due to around 90% of the flight path operating over the Western Sydney Employment Area. Established residential areas are not reached for about 20km, the equivalent of Macquarie University at North Ryde for Kingsford-Smith Airport. Those 2,913 dwellings that are affected can be provided with noise insulation.
Even with new residential developments in the nearby South West Growth Centre (SWGC), the direction of flights and industrial land buffer between residential areas and the proposed airport site mean that noise concerns can be kept to a minimum. The map immediately below, created by combining the noise contour map and SWGC, shows the high noise contour lines passing through industrial lands, Kemps Creek, the Western Sydney Parklands, and Austral. Though Kemps Creek and Austral were initially zoned entirely residential, they have since been re-zoned so that areas of it which were to be affected by aircraft noise are now also industrial (see final image).