WSROC Media Release - Badgery's EIS fails government's own guidelines

04 Dec 2015

In a letter to federal Ministers Hunt, Truss and Fletcher, Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) President, Cllr Tony Hadchiti, points out that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Western Sydney Airport fails the Australian Government’s own guidelines for the project.
“These guidelines were developed specifically for the Western Sydney Airport less than a year ago and the government has scrapped them at the first check point. This is both unacceptable and irresponsible,” said Cllr Hadchiti.
“WSROC conditionally supports the government’s plan to build an airport at Badgerys Creek, it offers unparalleled opportunities for our residents and the NSW economy, but we need to get this right. We can’t afford to cut corners,” he said.
“WSROC supports the objectives set out in the guidelines as these reflect a rigorous and comprehensive process of investigation and consultation.  There is such a divergence between the guidelines and the Draft EIS that the integrity of the process is now called into question,” said Cllr Hadchiti.  
The EIS guidelines put out by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development in January 2015 state that a draft EIS for the Western Sydney Airport should include discussion and modelling of aircraft noise impacts including consideration of all potential flight paths in the short, mid and long term.
“If the EIS was conducted according to the government’s own guidelines it would look into different options for flight paths and conduct modelling to determine which of these options work best,” said Cllr Hadchiti.
“Not only does the Draft EIS not discuss why the presented flight paths were chosen, it does not suggest whether any alternatives were considered,” he said.
“Contrary to the guidelines’ advice, that requires assessment of specific intentions, the flight paths presented are only ‘proof of concept’. Meaning a full assessment of the impacts on the community and natural environment cannot be completed,” said Cllr Hadchiti.
“This uncertainty doesn’t just affect western Sydney residents. An entire reconfiguration of flight paths in the Sydney basin is likely once a proper airspace management plan is developed. A reconfiguration of flight paths at Kingsford Smith will be needed within five years of Western Sydney Airport opening,” he said.
“An independent review into the Draft EIS has already found the document to be lacking in several areas, but if the government can’t meet its own basic guidelines what is the point of conducting an EIS at all?” said Cllr Hadchiti.
“The guidelines ask for transparency, however requests by the independent review team for access to the data and modelling used in the EIS were denied.”
“The guidelines also state the need to fully address environmental impacts; including an outline for the performance criteria to be met as well as the monitoring and reporting responsibility for each issue. The mitigation measures themselves have not been described in detail, let alone how they will be carried out and by whom,” said Cllr Hadchiti.
“It is obvious that this has been a rush job and claims from the Minister Truss’s spokesperson that the Draft EIS “did not cut corners and met all legislative requirements” does not cut it,” he said.
“The government itself saw a need to have the guidelines developed to guide the EIS, so just use them and in doing so earn the trust of the affected communities” said Cllr Hadchiti. 

Guidelines for drafting an Environmental Impact Statement for Western Sydney Airport

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