The Commonwealth and the owners of Kingsford-Smith Airport have begun discussions over the size and layout of a proposed second Sydney airport, a Senate estimates hearing has heard.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has started preliminary talks with Sydney Airport about the proposed new airport at Badgerys Creek. However, the discussions are not part of the formal negotiations over Sydney Airport’s the first right of refusal to build and operate a second Sydney airport, the executive director of the Department’s Western Sydney unit Brendan McRandle said.
“There is a dialogue occurring with Sydney Airport at the moment,” McRandle told the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee’s estimates hearing in Canberra on Monday.
“It is not under the formal consultation part of the process.
“That’s going to start some weeks or months down the track to initiate that.”
When the Commonwealth sold Sydney Airport in 2002 it included a 30-year first right of refusal to build and operate any second airport built within 100km of the existing terminals at Mascot. Under that provision the federal government is required to offer a formal consultation period with Sydney Airport’s owners of not less than five months and not longer than 12 months.
“There has been a very useful dialogue with Sydney Airport at the moment in what is known as the preliminary phase of the formal consultation process,” McRandle said.
“That will include elements around how the process will operate and broad agreement about the parameters and expectations about the kind of work and sequence of work that will occur.
“The consultation phase will focus on a number of issues – the airport layout, including elements like the way the transport system will connect to it, the size and nature of the first-stage operation of the airport and the economic and commercial aspects.”
At Sydney Airport’s annual general meeting on May 15, chairman Max Moore-Wilton said the first right of refusal was very valuable and discussions with the government would occur on a good faith basis.
The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee also heard the NSW government had started reserving land for a rail link to the new airport.
The Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Mike Mrdak said his department had done some planning work relating to rail connections through the airport site.
“We have certainly looked at the issue of what happens with the rail link in terms of the airport design,” Mrdak said.
“We are engaging in discussions with New South Wales officials in relation to their corridor reservation process.”
The federal government has allocated $77.8 million over the next four years for planning and development of the Western Sydney airport project.
However, the Abbott government has ruled out providing any funding support to build a rail link to the Badgerys Creek airport.