The federal government has begun the process for an environmental assessment of Badgerys Creek as the proposed site for a second Sydney airport.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss says the referral of the proposed airport to Environment Minister Greg Hunt is a “precursor in meeting our environmental obligations and, importantly, in allowing for community consultation”.
The assessment will consider environmental, social and economic impacts of building and operating the airport on the 1,700 hectare government-owned site.
There have been two previous environmental impact statements (EIS) on a proposed airport at Badgerys Creek.
The first was the 1985 Second Sydney Airport Site Selection Program Environmental Impact Statement, which looked at all possible locations for an airport and chose 10 for preliminary evaluation.
A second EIS in 1999 examined the planning process, potential aircraft noise impacts, air and water quality impacts, lifestyle and amenity impacts, hazards and risks of an airport at Badgerys Creek.
“The referral has been informed by previous environmental studies, including the comprehensive 1999 environmental assessment,” Truss said in a statement on Wednesday.
“No major impediments to developing an airport were found, which, at the time, was considered one of the most comprehensive environmental assessments in Australia.”
Construction on the site in Sydney’s west was earmarked to start in 2016, with the airport to be operational by the mid-2020s initially with one runway about 4,000 metres in length along a north-east/south-west orientation.
Design of the airport would allow for a second parallel runway of 4,000 metres, giving the facility an eventual capacity of 70 million passengers a year. The airport would have no curfew.
The federal government is currently in a formal nine-month consultation phase with the owners of Sydney Airport, who have the right of first refusal to build and operate any airport within 100km of the existing facility at Mascot.
Truss said SMEC Australia conducted a site survey of Badgerys Creek in September, which provided updated information for the official referral.
“Even so, the Australian government recognises the importance of conducting another environmental assessment and engaging in public consultation process for the Badgerys Creek site,” Truss said.
“The community will have opportunities for input at key points throughout the environmental assessment process. We are committed to meeting all requirements under relevant environment legislation and the guidelines issued by the Minister for the Environment.”