Defence has released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the flying operations of the new F-35A Lightning II fighter which is due to enter service in Australia from 2018.
The extensive draft EIS is available here, and Defence is inviting members of the community to comment.
The EIS covers extensive noise mapping for flying operations of the new aircraft at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal, and the support bases at Townsville, Darwin and the northern bare bases of Sherger, Curtin, and Learmonth. It also covers flying operations around the training range at Salt Ash just north of Williamtown.
One key proposal is for the extension or duplication of the single runway at Williamtown. Defence is considering three options; to extend the current 8,000ft runway to 10,000ft either by extending the runway at both ends; by moving it about a kilometre to the south east and extending it along the same alignment, or by adding a shorter parallel runway to the north east of the current runway.
Moving the runway to the south-east will go some way towards mitigating anticipated noise issues around the town of Raymond Terrace to the base’s north-west, while extending its length will allow the F-35 to operate from the runway using reduced power settings, but may require an extensive realignment of Nelson Bay and Medowie Roads.
“These documents represent the most comprehensive environmental study ever undertaken by Defence and demonstrates Air Force’s commitment to transparency with the Australian community about Air Force operations, including aircraft noise,” Commander Air Combat Group, AIRCDRE Tony Grady said in a statement. “I encourage people to read the documents.”
Comments are to be received by Friday September 19 in order to incorporated in to the final EIS.