Badgerys gets green light for $2.5billion airport

‘‘An airport for western Sydney’’ is how Prime Minister Tony Abbott described federal cabinet’s decision this afternoon to give the green light to a second airport for Sydney at Badgerys Creek.

Plans for a second airport have been in the pipeline, on and off, for the past 45 years as successive governments endorsed or rejected the idea.

Mr Abbott said planning and design work would start immediately and he expected construction to start by 2016.

He said it would create up to 4000 jobs at the peak of its construction.

‘‘It’s a long-overdue decision which, to be honest, has been shirked and squibbed by successive governments for far too long,’’ the Prime Minister told reporters.

Mr Abbott said the vast bulk of the $2.5billion cost would come from the private sector.

He insisted roads infrastructure would come first and the airport second.

Further announcements on roads funding will be made in ‘‘coming days’’.

‘‘I also want to stress that the government’s approach will be roads first, airport second, because we don’t want the people of western Sydney to have an airport without having the decent transport infrastructure that western Sydney deserves.’’

Mr Abbott said the project would create 60,000 new jobs for the region once the airport was fully operational.

The Prime Minister said details about the extent to which the federal government would fund the infrastructure package would be made in the coming days.

It’s understood the federal and state governments are close to finalising a deal on how much federal money will be on the table.

An initial figure of $200million that had been floated was insufficient in the view of the state government.

‘‘I think this is a good news story for western Sydney,’’ Mr Abbott said.

‘‘It’s good news for jobs and, because of the importance of Sydney in our national economy, it’s good news for Australia.’’

Mr Abbott played down concerns that airport noise would become an issue in the way it had for residents around Sydney Airport.

‘‘I don’t believe this is going to be anything like the problem at Badgerys that it has been at Mascot,’’ he said.

‘‘For a couple of reasons — first, because, quite frankly, people don’t want to travel in the middle of the night.

‘‘And, second, because we are just dealing with far, far fewer people.

‘‘If you look at the noise footprint, some 4000 people live within a Badgery’s noise footprint.

‘‘The equivalent footprint at Sydney is 130,000. So I just don’t think it’s going to be anything like the issue that it is elsewhere.’’

Mr Abbott added: ‘‘We are certainly not saying there will be a curfew.’’

Transport Minister Warren Truss said the next stage would be to engage Southern Cross Airports Corporation, which runs Kingsford-Smith, who have the right of first refusal to build the new airport.

That process would take 12 months.

But the question of the noise impact was raised by federal MP Louise Markus, who welcomed the decision but said a curfew would be ‘‘essential’’.

‘‘What matters most are the long-term needs of our region and that is what I will continue to work for,’’ Mrs Markus said.

The Hills mayor Michelle Byrne said Hills residents had long-anticipated the airport decision but stressed that the federal government must fund the infrastructure to support it.

‘‘From a Sydney Hills point of view, we want to see the North West Rail Line extend with the Western line to create a new orbital rail link.

“We want business people to be able to catch a train from Norwest or Bella Vista station straight to the Badgery’s Creek airport,’’ Dr Byrne said.

Federal Chifley MP Ed Husic described the decision as a ''huge slap in the face" to the people of western Sydney.

''People move to Western Sydney for a better quality of life and cheaper housing ,'' Mr Husic said.

"To say that Western Sydney will have an airport which will operate 24 hours a day while the eastern suburbs are protected by a curfew is a massive insult". The State and Federal Governments have their priorities all wrong. The people of Doonside and Rooty Hill can't even get lifts at their ramshackle train stations and yet billions can somehow be found for an airport at Badgerys Creek".

Blacktown councillor Stephen Bali, a long-time opponent of the plan and secretary of No Badgery’s Airport Inc, said it would be a ‘‘nightmare’’ for federal, state and local governments as its true cost would approach $40billion.

‘‘The alleged boom will be an economic millstone for governments as road and rail upgrades as well as health impacts will have to be addressed,’’ Cr Bali said.

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