Environment

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The advantage of a new airport is that it provides an opportunity to adopt the latest thinking and technology in design, operations and urban planning.

Part of this thinking involved a robust and rigorous environmental assessment, taking a wide range of issues into consideration including noise, pollution and impact on local amenities.

The Environmental Impact Statement 2016

The final Western Sydney Airport Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a detailed assessment of both construction and operation of Stage 1 of the Western Sydney Airport. The finalised EIS follows the public exhibition period of the draft EIS and draft Airport Plan from 19 October to 18 December 2015, during which time the community was invited to have a say on the airport’s development. Community submissions were carefully reviewed and considered as part of the process to finalise both documents.

Flowchart depicting the phases of the Environmental Impact Study PHASE 1 EIS preparation: Referral - The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development submits a referral for the proposed Western Sydney Airport, December 2014; Guidelines - A draft EIS is prepared addressing matters outlined in the EIS Guidelines, January 2015; Fieldwork and assessment - January-September 2015. PHASE 2 EIS exhibition: Draft EIS community consultation - Draft EIS and draft Airport Plans are placed on exhibition for public review and comment. October- December 2015; Review comments - Submissions are collated, reviewed and addressed in final EIS. Submissions Report prepared. PHASE 3 Assessment and determination: Finalisation - Final EIS taking into account public comment is prepared; (we are here) Final EIS is provided to Environment Minister for consideration and made public ly avai lable. Revised draft Airport Plan is also made publicly avai lable; The Airport Plan is determined by the Infrastructure Minister, including any environmental conditions or provisions specified by the Environment Minister.

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A range of factsheets which summarise a number of key topics covered in the EIS, is also available.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement 2015

The Western Sydney Airport draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released for public exhibition on Monday 19 October 2015, along with the draft Airport Plan. The public exhibition period closed on Friday 18 December 2015.

The Airport Plan

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Urban Infrastructure, has determined the Airport Plan, providing the authorisation to allow the construction and operation of Stage 1 of the airport.

The Airport Plan outlines the concept design for the airport development, including:

  • the development objectives;
  • the land use plan for the airport site; and
  • the airport layout.

Noise

Specific steps have been taken to minimise noise impacts on the areas surrounding the Western Sydney Airport, such as the long-standing planning restrictions that have largely protected the surrounding area from encroaching residential and urban development.

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The EIS assesses the potential noise impacts for both Stage 1 (one runway and capacity for 10 million passengers a year) and the long term. It also outlines measures to mitigate these impacts.

Based on indicative flight paths for the Western Sydney Airport, Australian Noise Exposure Contours (ANECs) have been developed. ANECs are charts that compare noise exposure levels for different flight path options. They are useful for understanding the areas in which the highest noise levels would be experienced and to inform land-use planning. To help you understand more about the ANECs and the indicative noise impacts around these areas, you can use the noise modelling tool.

You can also read the factsheets Managing aircraft noise and Flight paths for Western Sydney Airport. There is also a number of frequently asked questions relating to aircraft noise.

Heritage

Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

The EIS considers the airport’s potential impacts on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) in recognition of Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention and need to protect our natural environment.

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The EIS found that the construction and operation of the Western Sydney Airport will not have a significant impact on the World Heritage Values of the Greater Blue Mountains Area or result in attributes of the GBMWHA being lost or damaged in any way.

At its closest point, the 1.03 million hectare GBMWHA is approximately seven kilometres from the airport. The EIS found that construction of the airport would have no direct impacts on the GBMWHA or its World Heritage values. Detailed assessment was undertaken of possible indirect impacts from aircraft overflights, including consideration of a number of tourism and wilderness areas within the GBMWHA.

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area factsheet summarises the key points of the GBMWHA analysis in the EIS.

European heritage sites

The EIS considers the impacts of the airport on the heritage of the site and surrounding areas. A total of 20 European heritage items have been recorded at the airport site and an additional 22 heritage items have been recorded in the surrounding area.

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The EIS recommends a range of mitigation measures to minimise any impacts on places and items of heritage value, including:

  • further archaeological investigations;
  • archival recording;
  • an inventory of moveable items;
  • relocation of remains located in grave sites and potentially relocating some structures; and
  • the staged demolition of structures.

An oral history may also be prepared and the heritage value of the airport site would be considered through the detailed design of the airport.

You can also read the European heritage factsheet for more information.

Aboriginal heritage sites

The Australian Government recognises the cultural and social importance of preserving Aboriginal heritage.

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A total of 74 Aboriginal heritage sites have been recorded at the Western Sydney Airport site. All of the Aboriginal heritage sites recorded have significance. Construction of the Stage 1 development (one runway and up to 10 million passengers a year) would affect 39 of these sites. To preserve the heritage values, the EIS proposes:

  • in-situ conservation of some sites (including a grinding groove and a scar tree, which are located within the environmental conservation zone at the airport site);
  • recording and salvaging heritage artefacts; and
  • commemorating cultural heritage values at the airport site.

You can also read the Aboriginal heritage factsheet for more information.

Air quality

The EIS models air quality impacts associated with the construction and operation of the airport. It found that the airport would result in some minor changes to the air quality in the Western Sydney region. Emissions from the airport will be within relevant standards and represent an increase of just 0.1 to 0.7 per cent of total emissions in the Sydney basin.

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Mitigation and management measures are planned to reduce the airport’s impact on air quality. Industry-standard practices would be implemented to reduce construction dust emissions, including using water sprays to supress dust and revegetating exposed areas and soil stockpiles as soon as possible.

The airport would be required to meet ongoing standards as set out in the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997. In addition, the airport will incorporate best-practice features, such as clean-energy ground support vehicles, energy-efficient heating and cooling plants, fixed electrical ground power and preconditioned air supply to reduce aircraft burning fuel when stationed at gates.

The Air quality factsheet summarises the key points of the air quality analysis in the EIS.

Biodiversity

The EIS considers the ecological impacts of the airport and sets out measures to reduce these impacts. The EIS also proposes an investment of approximately $180 million in biodiversity offset packages to compensate for residual impacts.

Included in the measures to mitigate the impacts will be the implementation of an environmental conservation zone along Badgerys Creek.

You can also read the Biodiversity factsheet for more information.