Council calls on Australian Government to reject inadequate draft EIS for Western Sydney Airport
Blue Mountains City Council has responded to the Australian Government’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a Western Sydney Airport at Badgery’s Creek, with a unanimous and emphatic statement of opposition at last night’s extraordinary council meeting in front of a full house at the Blue Mountains Theatre, Springwood.
An audience of 500 concerned residents and community members attended the meeting last night, Tuesday 15 December, which was called for the Council to consider its draft submission to the EIS before submitting to the Australian Government by the closing date on Friday 18 December.
Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said, “The draft EIS is supposed to look at potential impacts on the community and the environment. The problem is - it doesn’t. Instead, it reads as a catalogue of errors, with nothing but uncertainty at every turn.”
While Blue Mountains City Council is opposed to a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek, an independent review of the Western Sydney Airport EIS confirms that the draft EIS is grossly inadequate and shows a complete disregard for the people of the Blue Mountains and Western Sydney as well as the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
“For a project of such significance and national importance, possibly being the largest single infrastructure investment of a generation, the lack of detail provided in the draft EIS is astounding”, the Mayor said.
Twenty-two community members addressed the meeting raising a wide range of concerns about the impact of the proposed Western Sydney Airport, particularly the flight path activity being concentrated over the Blue Mountains, on the local community, quality of life and World Heritage listed environment.
The meeting heard that no alternative flight paths have been considered in detail and noise pollution, air pollution, human health, and our precious wilderness and tourism economy were all glossed over in the draft EIS.
The resounding community opinion expressed at the meeting is that the Western Sydney Airport proposal is unfair, and unacceptable that aeroplanes will be flying over their homes and the World Heritage National Park 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no curfew.
Currently, the merge point of arrivals is directly over Blaxland in the lower Mountains. Further, the draft EIS only looks at the first 5 years of operation for the airport – with the number of flights similar to that of Townsville Airport. The Mayor said that the EIS indicates that when a second runway is built and passenger numbers peak in years to come, “we will be dealing with something more like Dubai Airport.”
“The City of the Blue Mountains is a special place of unsurpassed natural values which the draft EIS has failed to take into consideration”, said the Mayor. “It is one of only two cities in the world within a World Heritage listed National Park and it’s also our nations’ most visited National Park, attracting 3.5 million visitors every year. The assessment of the potential impacts on our community, nature based recreation, the tourism industry, our wildlife and on Aboriginal people’s connection to Country in the draft EIS has been found to be flawed and inadequate, bordering on non-existent.”
“In making our submission to the Australian Government, Blue Mountains City Council will call on the Minister for the Environment to reject the draft EIS, and as a result, the draft Airport Plan for Stage 1 should not be approved”, the Mayor said.
Further, the Council resolved to:
- Assert its opposition to the significant and irreversible impacts on the Blue Mountains environment and on the community that will occur from the proposed airport flight paths on the Blue Mountains communities and the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
- Urge the Australian Government to undertake a full analysis of alternate flight path options across Sydney, including noise impact assessments, which are considered essential for a project of this scale and consequence into the future;
- Urge the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Greg Hunt to seek advice from UNESCO regarding the potential impacts on our World Heritage listing;
- Endorse the submission made by the Blue Mountains City Council Aboriginal Advisory Council; and
- Seek an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister to make him aware of the Blue Mountains residents’ concerns with the inadequacies of the current EIS and the Governments process to date.
“We do not accept that the draft EIS is adequate for a project of this scale. It is imperative that the Australian Government commit to conducting a rigorous and detailed EIS, particularly given the airport is proposed to be operational 24 hours a day”, concluded the Mayor.
“We believe the most significant proposal affecting the liveability of the Blue Mountains and Western Sydney for the next Century needs to be done properly. The people of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains deserve better.”