Aviation in Sydney, second Sydney airport and RAAF Base Richmond (April 2014)

Draft Western Sydney Airport Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Action Plan

On Tuesday, 19 October 2015 the Australian Government released the Draft Western Sydney Airport EIS and Draft Airport Plan. The documents address the proposed commercial airport at Badgerys Creek.

These documents were publicly exhibition from 19 October to 18 December 2105 (60 days), and submissions could be made on the proposed airport to the Australian Government. At some point after the exhibition period, the Australian government will finalise the EIS and a Airport Plan.

To see how to view a copy of the draft EIS and draft Airport Plan, go to westernsydneyairport.gov.au or call the Western Sydney Unit on 1800 038 160.

The Western Sydney Airport proposal is a project of the Western Sydney Unit of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. All enquiries about the proposed airport should be direct to the unit.

On Tuesday, 15 April, 2014 the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott, announced that a site at Badgerys Creek in Western Sydney would be the site for a second Sydney airport.

Along with the Badgerys Creek airport site announcement, a Western Sydney Infrastructure program was announced as a joint initiative of the Australian Government and NSW Government over ten years to support the airports’ development.

The Badgerys Creek site is land acquired by former Australian Governments for an airport purpose.

For more detail on the announcements go to: http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/western_sydney/

The Australian Government has been exploring the aviation capacity needs of Sydney, and this is relevant to the Hawkesbury community as the potential use of RAAF Base Richmond is continually raised and is considered as having a role in the provision of a commercial aviation service.
Council has been monitoring the issue during the course of events and Council has considered a number of business paper reports on the matter.
The most recent study of the Australian Government on a secondary Sydney airport was the Sydney Aviation Capacity Scoping Study, entitled, “A Study of Wilton and RAAF Base Richmond for civil aviation operations”; released in May 2013.  Council was briefed on the next steps of the Scoping Study by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (Department) in August, 2013 and was reported to the Council at its meeting held 13 August, 2013 (Item 157, page 17).

The next steps of the Scoping Study, to be undertaken by the Department, were:

a. to investigate limited civil operations at Richmond RAAF Base;

b. to investigate the mine subsidence impact of the potential Wilton airport site; and

c. to report back to the Australian Government on (a) and (b) and a Department and Defence united position on civil access to Richmond RAAF Base.

The Department has posted the investigation into the mine subsidence impact of the potential Wilton airport site on its website, and addresses (b) above. http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/scopingstudy/files/Further_analysis_of_Wilton.pdf.

It is unknown if the Department has completed (a) and (c) above.  With this in mind and in the knowledge of the announcement of the Badgerys Creek site, it is still necessary for the Australian Government to outline its intentions for Richmond RAAF Base in the Sydney aviation mix (ie. commercial flights) and in Defence Policy (ie. Defence airfields).

There are still many questions Council is awaiting answers on. Is the government planning a role for Richmond RAAF Base in the interim period until Badgerys Creek airport is built?  If so, what might it be? What is the Australian Defence Force’s intention for Richmond RAAF Base?

It was put forward by the former Australian Government that the Sydney aviation mix should make the most of Sydney Airport; better utilise existing aviation infrastructure that are close to markets ie. airports and Defence airfields; and establish a second Sydney airport.  While RAAF Base Richmond is a key airfield site for the Australian Defence Force, the future capabilities of the Base was considered in the 2013 Defence White Paper and it is stated;

“As recommended by the ADF Posture Review, Defence will continue to develop options for reducing the Air Force’s footprint at Royal Australian Air Force base Richmond following the future retirement of the C-130J transport aircraft fleet. In doing so, Defence will consult relevant Agencies and stakeholders as part of broader Government considerations to address ADF requirements and aviation capacity issues in the Sydney region.”

A new Defence White Paper is being prepared and is expected to be released in 2015.

In regard to the Badgerys Creek airport site, Hawkesbury City Council in November, 2013, considered the second Sydney airport matter and decided to:

  • acknowledge the need for a second Sydney airport and, as a matter of policy and indicate that it considers the Badgerys Creek site as the most appropriate location for a second Sydney airport,
  • reiterate its position that RAAF Base Richmond Base should be retained, it not be considered as a site of a second Sydney airport, it should continue to operate as a permanent operational facility for Defence, and that any possible future use of the Base for civil aviation purposes not prevent or hinder its Defence purpose.

If you would like to provide feedback to Council and/ or join a mailing list to be kept informed of any updates from the Federal Government about Sydney’s aviation capacity needs and RAAF Base Richmond, please contact Council’s Strategic Activities Planner, Fiona Mann by calling (02) 4560-4573 or emailing your comments and contact details to fmann@hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au.

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