BACKGROUND to CAMPAIGN AGAINST WESTERN SYDNEY AIRPORT
(A major threat to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area)
In April 2014, the Australian Government announced that Badgerys Creek would be the site for a Western Sydney airport. The airport site is 50km west of Sydney's central business district and 8km from the eastern edge of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
The airport would operate 24 hours a day and handle up to 70 million passengers per year.
(The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website).
On 4th December 2014, the proposed Western Sydney Airport was referred to the Federal Government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act).
The Referral document stated that –
"A significant impact on the World Heritage values of the Greater Blue Mountains Area is not considered likely."
The Society wrote a submission (see left) which began:
"The Society strongly disagrees with this conclusion, and believes that the Western Sydney Airport and its attendant infrastructure and associated industries poses a very real threat to the GBMWHA. And as a result, the Airport is a threat to the Blue Mountains communities, tourism and businesses.
"The only way that the airport should proceed is for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to clearly show that there is no adverse impact on the GBMWHA. In addition, constraints and controls must be put in place to avoid an impact in the future."
The principal impact on the GBMWHA and Blue Mountains communities of the proposed Western Sydney Airport is aircraft noise.
Aircraft noise is incongruent with natural ecosystems.
While natural ecosystems may have their own noise – sometimes inherent (like a waterfall); sometimes occasional (like a storm) – they have evolved over millennia to have this as part of the ecosystem.
265 Australian bird species can be found in the GBMWHA – 111 (42%) of these are migratory or nomadic. A list of these 111 species was included as an appendix to the submission. The number is probably higher as this list was compiled at short notice by Carol Probets.
The potential effect of aircraft noise on birds has several consequences, and may include an impact on:
- flora - as some birds are pollinators; while others disperse seeds.
- their breeding - as they seek out new breeding grounds and become separated.
- their feeding - as they need to find new food sources, or their nocturnal hunting is disrupted.
- other birds - as they are either displaced, or become overcrowded.
After a brief extension, submissions closed on the December 22. On the following day, the Federal Dept. of Environment decided that an Environmental Impact Statement was required.
We await details on this.
It was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 4th January, that the United Nations' world heritage body will issue a "please explain" to the Abbott government demanding a detailed report on the threat posed by the Badgerys Creek airport to the natural integrity of the Blue Mountains.