Flightpaths over the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek will be spread out across Western Sydney community and be restricted during overnight hours, according to the project’s final environmental impact statement (EIS).
The draft airport plan and EIS published in October 2015 showed indicative flightpaths for landing at the airport would converge at a single point some 5,000-7,000 feet over the Blue Mountains community of Blaxland, just west of Penrith.
However, in May 2016 the federal government asked for flightpaths to be redrawn to eliminate this single merge point. The final EIS, published on September 15, has reflected the government’s wishes, with indicative flightpaths spread out as part of a comprehensive noise mitigation plan.
Indeed, the EIS said “aircraft arrivals will not converge through a single merge point over any single residential area”.
The federal opposition’s call for there to be night-time restrictions at Badgerys Creek, where all takeoffs and landings between 2300 and 0600 would be in a south-westerly direction to avoid residential areas, has also been taken up. This policy has been criticised by pilot groups.
“The use of head-to-head operations to and from the south-west, when it is safe to do so, is an important preferred option for managing aircraft noise at night,” the EIS said.
“This preferred option will be thoroughly evaluated through further detailed assessment.”
Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said indications were that head-to-head operations “could be available greater than 80 per cent of the time”.
“The flight paths set out in both the draft and final EIS are only indicative, and were prepared for the specific purpose of determining whether safe operation of a second major airport in the Sydney Basin is possible, and for allowing an assessment of the environmental impact of Western Sydney Airport using a credible and representative set of operational parameters,” Fletcher said in a statement.
It took the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development 11 months to review the 5,000 submissions in response to the draft EIS.
The federal government planned to establish a community forum for the proposed airport.
Fletcher said the Forum on Western Sydney Airport (FoWSA), which will include representatives from the aviation industry, community, state and local government, as well as tourism and business groups, “would ensure community views were taken into account, particularly in relation to the airspace design process”.
Fletcher said the EIS would be given to Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg to determine whether to approve the EIS and what environmental conditions, if any, to impose.
“Finalisation of the EIS is also a precondition for determining the Airport Plan, which can only occur following consideration of the EIS by Minister Frydenberg,” Fletcher said.
Once approved, the final Airport Plan could be determined. The proposed airport was slated to begin operations in the mid-2020s. Preparatory work on the airport site was already underway.