New Sydney airport go-ahead splits business and locals

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince George step off the plane at Sydney The next time Prince George visits Australia, he could be touching down at Badgerys Creek

Related Stories

Australia has finally decided after a fractious debate lasting decades to build a second airport in Sydney, its biggest and most populous city.

The discussions and quarrels have been so drawn out that Prime Minister Tony Abbott, 56, who announced the momentous decision, was a schoolboy when the project was first mooted.

Start Quote

David Borger

We are seeing people across the political divide joining up at a leadership level saying this finally must happen”

End Quote David Borger Sydney Business Chamber

Over the years various proposals have been suggested and rejected; although constructing a runway out to sea was never a serious contender, other plans to build Sydney's second airport in Canberra or Newcastle, a port city 160km (100 miles) to the north, were considered but shelved.

Then, at last, news stations delivered word of a long-awaited breakthrough. "After many years of indecision, the federal government has finally named the site for Sydney's second airport. It's to be at Badgerys Creek."

However, this was a bulletin from the 1980s, and the arguments were to meander for another 30 years.

'Good news for Australia'

"It has been the great marathon of public policy decision-making in Australia," says Tim Harcourt, an economist at the University of New South Wales.

In the end Mr Abbott's conservative government has opted for Badgerys Creek, a semi-rural district about 50km west of central Sydney.

Tony Abbott Tony Abbott has made it clear he wants a curfew-free airport in Sydney; the current airport does not operate between 23:00 and 06:00

"The planning and design work will start immediately, and my expectation is that construction will begin in 2016," the prime minister told reporters.

"I think this is a good news story for western Sydney. It's good news for jobs and, because of the importance of Sydney in our national economy, it's good news for Australia."

During last year's federal election campaign, Mr Abbott pledged to be an "infrastructure prime minister" who would support bold projects to revive economic growth as Australia's mining boom fades.

Political rarity

The Badgerys Creek airport will cost an estimated 2.5bn Australian dollars (£1.4bn; $2.3bn) that will be funded mostly by the private sector, with first flights expected in the mid-2020s.

Qantas planes Australia's national carrier, Qantas, has welcomed the announcement

Although the airport will be initially modest in size, with a single runway and a terminal building, analysis suggests it could be economic gold for western Sydney, which is home to two million people - just under a tenth of the national population.

Start Quote

It is like approving a 50-storey apartment block without seeing the plans first”

End Quote Frank Carbone Mayor of Fairfield City Council

The sprawling region that stretches to the foothills of the Blue Mountains has been beset by transport problems and limited employment opportunities.

David Borger, of the Sydney Business Chamber, told the BBC that if the airport had lift-off by 2027 it would eventually create an additional 50,000 jobs.

"It is a long way from dense urban communities, so it is the best possible place to put an airport," Mr Borger said.

"What we are seeing is something incredibly rare in Australian politics. We are seeing people across the political divide joining up at a leadership level saying this finally must happen."

'Wasteland'

Sydney's current airport is Kingsford Smith, named after an intrepid interwar aviator, 10km south-east of the city centre.

Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney Sydney's current airport, Kingsford Smith, is located in the suburb of Mascot

While the site at Badgerys Creek may lack the appeal of the existing facility's greater proximity to central Sydney, it could become a hub for budget airlines that could take advantage of a less restrictive curfew on flights.

However, opposition to the plan has been intense. There are concerns about the effect of aircraft noise on health, the impact on property values in nearby suburbs and on the environment.

Frank Carbone, mayor of Fairfield city in south-west Sydney, has complained that he has not been properly consulted about the new airport down the road.

"It is like approving a 50-storey apartment block without seeing the plans first," he says.

While other councils believe the economic benefits will be significant, disgruntled community groups are vowing to fight the proposal.

Geoff Brown, of the Western Sydney Conservation Alliance, says the Badgerys Creek scheme would be a disaster for residents.

"It's going to make western Sydney a nightmare to live in," he says.

"Growth and a fair go for western Sydney doesn't mean trashing the place, doesn't mean turning it into a wasteland of factories and industrial sites."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

Business Live

  1.  
    06:34: Gas prices BBC Radio 4

    While falling oil prices have recently caught the attention of many, the cost of gas has also been coming down. That's because demand in Europe has been falling due to a relatively warm winter so far. Richard Green professor of sustainable energy business at Imperial College London tells Today we shouldn't expect lower energy bills are a result. That's because energy suppliers are selling us gas they bought at last year's prices.

     
  2.  
    06:32: Asian markets

    Asian stock markets have had a mixed session. They Nikkei 225 is up more than 2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng is up 1.4%. Shares in Shanghai have fallen back after hitting a four-year high in early trading. The Shanghai composite is down 0.1%.

     
  3.  
    06:21: China recalculates growth
    Chinese flag

    China's economy is bigger than originally thought. The government has revised up the size of the economy in 2013 by 3.4% to 58.8 trillion yuan ($9.5 trillion). The increase was mainly accounted for by a greater contribution from the services sector. In comparison, the US economy was worth almost $17 trillion in 2013.

     
  4.  
    06:14: IAG bid for Aer Lingus Radio 5 live
    Dublin Airport

    British Airways owner, IAG is "good at integrating new airlines" says Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown. He is explaining why IAG made a bid for Aer Lingus. The Irish airline is attractive because it has lots of landing slots at Heathrow, says Mr Hunter. IAG may also have a bit more spending power because of the lower oil price, he adds.

     
  5.  
    06:06: North Sea oil jobs Radio 5 live
    Oil worker

    North Sea oil companies are cutting wages, rather than jobs at the moment, says Alan Savage chairman of recruitment company Orion Group on Radio 5 live. For agency workers wages have already been cut by up to 20%. He says that the British oil industry is highly taxed and the "government has a lot to answer for".

     
  6.  
    06:02: Russian crisis Radio 5 live
    Russian President, Vladimir Putin

    Next year is going to be grim for the Russian economy, says Craig Botham, emerging markets economist at Schroders on Radio 5 live. The economy is likely to contract 4.5%, inflation is forecast to be betweem 11% and 12%. The rouble could keep on weakening, "it's hard to see a particular floor for the currency" Mr Botham says.

     
  7.  
    05:59: Ben Morris Business Reporter

    Do get in touch. Email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.

     
  8.  
    05:59: Matthew West Business Reporter

    Morning folks. The news the US Federal Reserve is in no hurry to raise interest rates boosted shares on Wall Street and in Asia to new highs. Meanwhile the Bank of Japan maintained its commitment to government bond buying at its last meeting of the year. And we'll be keeping an eye on the Russia rouble and oil price again today and there may be more on IAG's bid for Aer Lingus. Stay with us.

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • An ECG (electrocardiogram)Click Watch

    The wearable technology which could allow you to pay for goods with your heartbeat

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.