Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill has labelled the final federal government report on the environmental impacts of Badgerys Creek Airport a “con job” and “propaganda”.
The report, released on Thursday [September 15], contains significant changes from the draft EIS in response to the 5000 submissions – 80 per cent of which came from the Blue Mountains – said Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure.
The report emphasised that flights would no longer be funneled into a merge point above Blaxland or any other town.
“There will not be a single merge point over Blaxland … there will not be a single merge point over any residential community,” Mr Fletcher said.
But Mayor Mark Greenhill, who has campaigned hard against the airport and was recently re-elected as a councillor with an almost nine per cent increase in his vote, said the latest report was “really just propaganda”.
“It is trying to justify an airport they always intended to try and build,” Cr Greenhill said.
”The people have spoken on this. At the last federal election and at the recent council election. Candidates opposing the airport received strong support from the community.”
Cr Greenhill asked how could the government claim they had been considering submissions “when all the while they have been preparing the site?”
"This latest report is strong on rhetoric but short on facts. It is all part of the self-justification process.
“We will still see planes 24/7 at 4000 feet over the Mountains. It will damage our quality of life, wreck our tourist economy and massively impact the World Heritage Area itself.”
The EIS was an important milestone to operations commencing in the mid-2020s, Minister Fletcher said, as capacity was expected to be reached at Sydney’s Mascot Airport by 2027.
“It’s a critical project which will provide jobs and growth for western Sydney and ensure long-term aviation needs are met.”
He said the final EIS set out “head to head operations” (flights in and out of the same direction) during 11pm to 6am to minimise homes affected by aircraft noise at night.
”Head to head operations will involve flights both taking off to, and landing from, the southwest of the runway in circumstances where it is safe to do so.”
Mr Fletcher said the flight paths set out in both the draft and final EIS were only indicative and the EIS final flight paths will involve significant public consultation and advice from expert bodies such as Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The final report predicted that almost all flights passing over the Mountains would be at an altitude above 5000 feet, and most above 10,000 feet.
Mr Fletcher said the Blue Mountains already had extensive aircraft movements – around 230 a day or a quarter of Sydney Airport’s daily traffic.
“After five years of operations, Western Sydney Airport is projected to represent just over 30 per cent of all flights over the Blue Mountains.”
Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman said she was very concerned by the report.
“At this stage, I am very concerned that there is no updating of maps and there doesn’t appear to be an additional data or studies. Aside from adopting Labor’s policy to reduce noise impacts, the conclusions are pretty much the same.”
Mr Fletcher said the proposed Western Sydney Airport would serve domestic and international passengers – catering for 10 million passengers annually – as well as air freight.
He added the construction would generate $1.9 billion for the local economy, with a further $400 million across the rest of Sydney. Once operational, the proposed airport will bring an estimated nearly 9,000 jobs to western Sydney by the early 2030s and some 60,000 in the long term.
The $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan will ensure road connections are ready before the proposed airport opens, including the new M12 motorway between the M7 and The Northern Road.
The Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg will make the final decision on whether to approve the EIS and what environmental conditions, if any, to impose.