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Gov’t tip-toes toward Wilton airport option

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 8, 2012

The Federal Government will launch a study of a potential aiport site at Wilton despite Sydney Airport's planned terminal overhaul.

The federal government will move ahead with a “detailed investigation” into building a second Sydney airport in Wilton, but stopped short of endorsing that option.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese announced the plans today, saying the inquiry would include “preliminary economic, social and environmental studies.”  Albanese said a decision on whether to go ahead with an airport at the site roughly 80km southwest of the Sydney CBD would await the results of the new study.

“I don’t want to pre-empt the study, that’s why we’re getting the scientific advice in,” Albanese told ABC Radio. “But Sydney does need a second airport – that is very clear.”

Albanese said the government would also study using RAAF Base Richmond for limited civilian operations and would work with the NSW government to develop a plan to upgrade the road and rail networks serving the current Sydney Airport.

The study of Wilton follows a broader study on Sydney’s airport needs released earlier this year. That study, jointly commissioned by the federal and NSW governments, called for urgent action on a second airport and recommended Wilton as a second-best option behind Badgerys Creek. The federal government purchased and set aside land for an airport at Badgerys Creek decades ago, but both the federal and state governments have since ruled out the site due to encroaching residential development.


Liberal NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell also opposes building an airport at Wilton, preferring plans to expand Canberra Airport and link it to Sydney via high speed rail. But that plans appear to have little support at the federal level, including from O’Farrell’s own party, and O’Farrell has come under increasing pressure to soften his stance on Wilton.

At the same time, however, the Wilton option has also drawn staunch opposition from local politicians and resident groups, who argue that the area’s significant water catchments and lack of transport infrastructure make it unsuitable for an airport.

The cost of an airport at Wilton has been estimated at $810 million including road upgrades. That’s more than twice the estimated cost to build at Badgerys Creek. But only about 81,500 people are expected to be affected by aircraft noise at Wilton versus 1.7 million at Badgerys Creek.

Albanese said the government would begin consultations with Sydney Airport’s parent company, which holds a right of first refusal to build a second airport under the Sydney Airport Share Sale Agreement.


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Comments (12)

  • So hang on… At the end of the day the owners of Sydney Airport have power under their contractual agreement with the government to refuse a second airport for Sydney. I would have thought that question should have been the first thing to be asked rather then spending millions of dollars on studies then finding out the company that has the right to first refusal actually does so…

    What I don’t understand is why isn’t Richmond bring seriously considered? Newcastle, Darwin and Townsville have been operating with both civilian and military operations for years. If it’s planned properly (keyword properly, something governments seem to fail at more then they should) it will work. Residents are already subject to heavy aircraft noise (F-18’s, Hawk 127’s etc) so additional aircraft won’t pose any new issues. A high speed rail link direct to Sydney CBD and the first airport would be cheaper then building one from Canberra. It could integrate into excisting rail networks.

    Having travelled from Sydney Airport to RAAF Richmond quite a few times the road network would need significant upgrading to handle the massive increase in traffic, but considering its just been upgraded (again no foresight) I can see the resilience to upgrade it again so soon.

    Hopefully it gets sorted out soon, kinda getting over hearing about the deadlock just as much as I am getting sick of waiting an extra 45 minutes in a holding pattern everytime I visit Sydney.

  • ron


    Airport. Just do it.

  • Bruce


    IF Richmond is suitable for civilian aircraft, would it not be cheaper to build a new military airport only, somewhere else. Wilton might be a good site for that.

  • QSD


    RAAF Base Richmond is not suitable for regular public transport due to the heavy fog that sets in during the winter months.

  • Brendan


    Bankstown airport, it’s still there you know, send reginal aircraft there, with well planned transport connecting it to the CBD & kingsford smith. Best of both worlds. Free up slots at kingsford smith & keep ALL travellers close to Sydney CBD.

  • Michael Anderson


    Richmond could be a stop gap. It’s never going to be busy with RPT, so fog not really an issue in am.

    No airline would want to operate peak hour services into Richmond.

    NTL does have some international services & a QF 744 from LAX I think it was ended up at NTL a few weeks ago, when SYD closed.

    There’s a big chunk of population in & around NTL & between NTL & Hornsby in Sydney. Probably 2.5 million or more, within 2 hours drive.

    Southwest effect – people will drive 2 hours (but not more)

    According to google maps, which is very conservative is it’s timing between points, it’s less than 1 hour dricing time difference between driving Hornsby to SYD INT & Hornsby to NTL & lot less stressful drive to NTL !!!

    Why could low cost carriers like Air Asia X & Scoot + Tiger & Jetstar & others be offerred deals to fly into NTL ?

  • Boneyard Wrangler


    I wouldnt like to see the headlines when a fully loaded 737 goes into the escarpment on the Blue Mountains in bad weather trying to get in or out of Richmond.
    Too dangerous for RPT unless they put in a NTH – STH Cross Strip.

    And then today I heard the airlines Rep saying that they dont want ANY 2nd airport outside of the Sydney Metro.
    Citing that no Regional passenger wants to fly in from out west and then have make their way from Wilton to YSSY to catch their International Flight.

  • Michael Anderson


    Boneyard wrangler you missed the point.

    Richmond exists & LCC could & would fly there. There’s a huge population within 1 hours drive.

    By airline rep I think you might be talking about int carriers.

    The future is LCC’s. Will Qantas survive or become 100% Jetstar ?(probably Qnatas BNE/SYD/MEL/CBR/PER only)

    People will drive to save $$$, it’s been proved by Southwest & Ryanair, who fly to many out of the way, but low cost airports.

    & why on earth would you want to have to consult SYD INT airport with their incredibly high fees, when you can use existing airports, that could be used tomorrow.

  • Darren Thomson


    I notice that the Central Coast option which was being promoted by a Local Mayor has received little to no mention…
    With little significant weather issues, massive amounts of space, a high pressure fuel pipeline, upgraded freeway and a rail link, why is it not being more seriously considered?
    There is also the benefit to the Local community of providing a large number of jobs to sort out the unemployment situation on the Coast.
    Just a thought ;o)

  • jo


    There were existing plans for Richmond with the inclusion of a north south facing runway (one problem with Richmond is the location of montains at one end, and the existing runway is too short for some aircraft. It is no use dedicating Richmond as a second airport if there is no room for future expansion, can’t land A380. If you do that expect the debate to re-open for a third Sydney airport) this would avoid noise over current populated areas also. People talk about the railway link, if the modified runway had been added air traffic would be redirected toward londonderry and Penrith City, again heavily populated with thousands of new homes be added to the North (old ADI site). This would cross over the railway link and Windsor and Richmond rd, all would have to be relocated underneath the new runway plan, thus easier to build an entire new airport elsewhere. If existing air traffic at Richmond was to increase Historic towns like Windsor and newly dense populated aireas such as Pitt Town Kellyville may find themselves under a flight path, another reason past recommended site scheyville may have been knocked on the head. Scheyville isn,t too far from the new rail link at Rouse Hill either. The entire Hawkesbury region has a new plan (Hawkesbury Residential Land strategy) already in play for future population. Why waste decades of political debate for population increase, already in play to again use this area as a dump for the too hard basket. Badgery’s Creek is the best option, it has been planned for decades, remember the M4 motorway.

  • johnpro2


    2nd airport for Sydney ?
    More like an international airport for Woolongong.
    Picture ..Just arrived from London or Los Angeles. Exhausted ..then a 2 hour bus trip into Sydney via the outer suburbs . Not likely.
    The airlines will refuse to use this airport. An viable option is to build an island airport at sea like the Hong Kong folk.

  • johnW


    Not a second international airport for Sydney but a second major airport,that could handle interstate and regular public transport flights.Keep Mascot primarily for international, with some interstate flights .Take the burden off mascot.As for richmond RAAF , relocate them to probably the best all weather airport in the state,Narromine .It is former RAAF base, all weather, flat ground sparsley populated, but close enough to major inland cities.Operations could be 24 hr, it will be linked to the melbourne brisbane rail link, and is centrally located.There is room for expansion and the cost of such a move would be less than building a second international airport in the sydney basin.The time factor also comes into play for sydney. You need another airport now not in ten years.Politicians have got to grow some balls and make some smart decisions for the future direction of this state.

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