Canberra has laid down 40 environmental conditions that need to be met as part of the construction and operation of the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek in Sydney’s west.
Federal Minister for the Environment an Energy Josh Frydenberg said the environmental conditions covered biodiversity, noise and heritage and were developed after a review of the proposed airport’s environmental impact statement (EIS) that was finalised in September.
“With these conditions and the existing regulatory regime already in place I am confident the first stage of this development can now proceed,” Frydenberg said in a statement on Friday.
“This is as comprehensive a set of conditions placed by the Commonwealth on any airport in the country.”
The final EIS, published in September, showed flightpaths over the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek will be spread out across Western Sydney community and be restricted during overnight hours.
The draft airport plan and EIS published in October 2015 had 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 Western Sydney Airport environmental conditions document published on Friday said the airspace design process would be developed by a steering group led by the Infrastructure Department and involving Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Further, the airspace and flight path design had to take account of four principles covering overflight noise mitigation options, the social and economic impact on existing users of the airspace, arrangements for managing overflight noise at night and minimising noise on residential areas, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, wilderness areas and other sensitive locations.
“In developing the airspace and flight path design, the steering group must conduct public consultation with stakeholders who include the aviation industry, the community and state and local government authorities,” the report said.
“The Infrastructure Department must develop a noise insulation and property acquisition policy in relation to Aircraft Overflight Noise for buildings outside the Airport Site, having regard to the 24-hour nature of operations at the Airport.”
Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said the release of the environmental conditions would be reflected in the final Airport Plan.
“These conditions will be included in the final Airport Plan and will bind any airport developer and operator to comply with them,” Fletcher said in a statement.
“With the strict environmental conditions in place, along with the existing regulatory regime, the Environment Minister’s notice affirms that a single runway airport can go ahead without unacceptable impacts to the environment.”
It took the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development 11 months to review the 5,000 submissions in response to the draft EIS after it was first published in October 2015.
Frydenberg said the environmental conditions also set out a $180 million package for biodioversity offsets in consultation with ecology experts, a review of fuel supply options to commence before the end of 2017 and a $10 million contribution to a native seed program run by Greening Australia.
“This innovative program will future proof seed supply in Western Sydney to support conservation replanting programs on Western Sydney’s Cumberland Plain,” Frydenberg said of the seed program.