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- ANDREW CLENNELL STATE POLITICAL EDITOR
- THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
- NOVEMBER 12, 2012 12:00AM
AN ambitious plan to build a fourth and fifth runway at Sydney Airport on reclaimed land in Botany Bay has won the backing of state Treasurer Mike Baird.
By declaring it a worthwhile option to break the impasse over a second hub, Mr Baird has radically departed from his boss Premier Barry O’Farrell, who called for Canberra airport to be expanded and linked to Sydney by a high-speed rail network.
“We should consider the proposal in detail,” Mr Baird said.
“It would seem an opportunity to maximise existing infrastructure without impacting the curfew before new infrastructure is needed.”
The Sydney Airport expansion, originally proposed a decade ago by IAC Aviation, was costed at $5.2 billion – or half the cost of a second airport – in this year’s joint federal-state study on Sydney aviation capacity.
The proposal for Sydney Airport South includes developing two parallel runways each up to 4000m in length, separated by 760m in the southern part of Botany Bay.
The runways will be between Cronulla and Sutherland on the west side and Kurnell on the east, where residents already have to put up with an oil refinery, the existing airport, a desalination plant and sewage run-off.
Mr Baird said he believed the Sydney Airport company, federal and state governments could all contribute to the cost of funding the plan.
The latest development in the airport saga comes as The Daily Telegraph has learned that the federal government’s own study into its preferred site for a second hub at Wilton has raised serious concerns about the project’s viability.
“It’s essentially not going to end up where the government wants it to,” one aviation industry source said. A senior federal government source confirmed: “There are issues around the site, there’ll be a lot of environmental (issues).”
The proposed Wilton site is near a water catchment area which supplies Sydney and Wollongong. Coal mining could also cause subsidence and there are issues surrounding the cost of construction of transport links.
Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese rejected Badgerys Creek as an option for a second airport because marginal state and federal seats would be impacted.
Mr Albanese declined to speculate on the Wilton study, due early next year, saying he had “yet to receive the report in any form as the study was still under way”.
But he backed away from Sydney Airport South, saying it would only lead to greater congestion.
“Without a second airport, this congestion will only get worse,” Mr Albanese said. “The Joint Aviation Study showed that by next year, morning peak trains will be at capacity before they reach the airport stations.”
Meanwhile, Mr O’Farrell appeared to stymie his own Canberra plan when the state government approved the Tralee housing development near Canberra airport earlier this month.
Sydney Airport chairman Max Moore-Wilton, who is also an Infrastructure NSW board member, attacked the latest expansion plan and said the government should take up a recommendation in the joint federal-state study to increase landings per hour up from the cap of 80.
“Even an increase of five movements per hour would make a difference,” he said.
“You don’t build infrastructure if you don’t need it.
“Sydney Airport’s not short of capacity, it’s restricted.
“It’s an absolute disgrace.”
It’s understood Infrastructure NSW chairman Nick Greiner reiterated his support for a second airport at a Lebanese Chamber of Commerce function on Friday night.
“If I lived in western Sydney, I’d want a western sydney airport in 25 or 30 years,” Mr Greiner said.
“People like Parramatta City Council should be supportive of it,” he added.