UNESCO is “closely” monitoring the controversial Badgerys Creek airport development and has had “continued exchanges regarding the project, its process of approval, and the impacts it may have on the Outstanding Universal Value of the world-heritage property of the Greater Blue Mountains, a UNESCO spokesman Junhi Han told the Gazette.
Mayor Mark Greenhill said UNESCO only monitor “when there is a change in circumstances that may bring about a reconsideration of the world-heritage listing”.
“They don't monitor if they feel there is nothing to worry about,” Cr Greenhill said.
"The key point is that UNESCO says it is closely monitoring.
"In 1999 UNESCO shelved our world-heritage application because of the possibility that the Howard government would construct an airport. The application moved forward as the threat receded in 2000.
"The fact that UNESCO was prepared to shelve the application then, and has us under scrutiny now over the same issue, should concern us.
“The loss of world heritage status must be an issue for our local economy,” Cr Greenhill added.
Mr Han said the World Heritage Centre had “received correspondence and information from several sources regarding the Western Sydney Airport, and has been in contact with the relevant Australian authorities”.
“Continued exchanges took place regarding the project, its process of approval, and the impacts it may have on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the World Heritage Greater Blue Mountains Area.
“We were informed national-level consultations were held about the airport plan and the related Environmental Impact Statement, and that the Minister of the Environment provided the Minister for Urban Infrastructure with recommendations in the form of environmental conditions addressing biodiversity, noise and heritage, which must be adopted for Stage 1 of the proposed airport to proceed,” Mr Han said.
“The World Heritage Centre was informed that the Environmental Impact Statement concluded there would be no direct impact on the OUV associated with the construction and operation of the airport. We have also informed our advisory bodies of this conclusion.”
Mr Han said they were following “all matters in line with the operational guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention”
“Please rest assured that the Centre is following this matter closely, including with the Australian authorities”.
The airport was given final government approval in 2016.