My opinion on this subject seems to be wildly unpopular, everywhere I turn I encounter people who genuinely believe that building a second airport at Badgery’s Creek is necessary. Desirable, even.
Now I’m not the smartest person, but even I’ve been able to see the facts and see that it’s actually a horrible, terrible idea. So here it is, a guide to why we don’t need a second airport that is so simple, even I’ve been able to comprehend it.
“Sydney Airport is too busy. It’s obvious we need two airports.”
Sydney Airport is not at capacity. Even with the curfew, there is room for a lot more growth. In fact Sydney Airport did their own independent study that showed that a second airport is neither cost effective nor necessary, which is why they’re not the ones building it. The government chose to ignore all that and build it themselves anyway, and one has to question why they would do that.
Yes it’s a bit of a pain to get to the airport by car, but that’s because all of Sydney’s roads are a nightmare, not just the M5. Upgrades are needed everywhere, an airport won’t fix that, upgrading roads will.
“London has two airports!”
Actually it has four, and it’s an absurd comparison because London has more of, well, everything! London has a bigger population, more immigration, more frieght. Heathrow alone is enourmous compared to Sydney Airport. London is a hub for both business and politics. Of course they have more air traffic.
If we’re going to make that comparsion though then let me ask this… if you wanted to travel from London to Paris, how would you do it?
If you answered the Eurostar, you’d be correct!
London eliminated a huge chunk of air traffic by building a fast rail train between London and Paris. There are fast rail lines all over Europe, it’s a great way to travel. We could do the same here. A huge chunk of Sydney’s air traffic is flights between Sydney and Melbourne. A fast rail line would make it a three hour train trip, eliminating that air traffic and opening up Sydney Airport for decades of future growth.
“Three hours? Flying to Melbourne only takes an hour and a half!”
Well yes, the flying portion takes an hour and a half. But that’s not the whole journey.
Consider this – Sydney Airport is not in the CBD, it’s in Mascot. Also Melbourne Airport is not in the CBD. It’s in Tullamarine.
Say a business passenger needed to get from Sydney Central to Flinders Street Station. First they have to get a train or Uber to the airport. They have to be there a minimum of 30 minutes before boarding to check in, get through security, find their gate and actually board the plane. Boarding takes time, so does the safety demonstration, and finally take off. Then there’s the hour and a half flight.
Once in Melbourne they’ve got to get off the plane, which takes a while. I mean there’s hundreds of passengers and only two doors, do the math. Then they’ve got to get out of the airport (we’ll skip baggage claim because it’s a business passenger) and get a transfer or Uber to Flinders Street.
I’m thinking all that combined would take roughly three hours?
Same as a fast rail trip which can travel directly from Central to Flinders Street.
“Air noise in the Eastern Suburbs is awful, and there’s so much space out west.”
Ahem – a good portion of that “space” is the Blue Mountains. A world heritage listed wilderness area. A flight plan will go straight over that, which might not affect as many houses as a flight plan over Vaucluse, but does anyone care about endangered wildlife? I do!
Other flight plans are over the Western Suburbs, and areas where future developments are planned. That’s not “space”. It’s my home. My house isn’t under a flight path, but many others are.
It’s also some of the last affordable housing left in Sydney. Reducing aircraft noise in the East will drive up housing prices there. A second airport out here will also drive up our housing prices, because we’ll be close to an airport.
Also don’t pity the East too much. They get a curfew. A luxury the West are being denied, and we’re yet to hear a good reason for that.
Aircraft noise in the East isn’t great, but an airport isn’t the only way to reduce aircraft noise, fast rail will eliminate a portion of flights and a portion of noise with it.
“What about all the new infrastructure?”
The new airport plan includes plans for a lot of new infrastructure in Western Sydney. More trains, more motorways, improvements to existing roads, all things the West desperately needs.
I’m not going to lie, that part would all be pretty awesome.
Therein lies the problem. Given the atrocious state of Western Sydney’s roads and public transport, shouldn’t those improvements be made anyway?
Making them part and parcel of the airport feels to me like political blackmail. To get the good bit I have to take the bad bit, and I’m not buying it. If the government has that money to build that infrastructure then just do it. If not, then why are they building an airport too?
“But it will create jobs. We need more jobs.”
This is the big trump card. The government tells us we need more jobs, and the airport will create more jobs. You Western Sydney people want jobs, right? You’re not anti-business, are you?
This is true, sort of. Unfortunately the figures of how many jobs will be created has been massively exaggerated. We’re told the figure is 60,000 but that’s a number that has been rounded up a whole bunch of times.
Not only that, a significant portion of those are construction jobs which will dry up once construction is complete. The rest, let’s be real, when the existing airport sees a significant drop in customers from flights being moved to the new one they’re not going to be able to maintain their current employment numbers. So there’s at least a portion of jobs that aren’t being created, they’re being moved.
If the government is serious about creating jobs, here’s a few other ideas that I can list off the top of my head.
Build some schools and hospitals. We need them.
Staff them adequately. While you’re at it, staff the existing ones adequately too.
Educate said staff in Australia, a boom for the education sector.
Get serious about climate change. There are jobs to be had in renewables, we have to invest in them.
Build the fast rail. It will need people to build, run and maintain it, just like an airport would.
“Fast rail is too expensive.”
What, you think airports are free?
It’s been fully costed, and it is a viable alternative that both governments and oppositions are refusing to consider.
Now I’m not one to cry conspiracy theory, but isn’t it interesting that the Prime Minister happens to live in an electorate under an existing flight path? And isn’t it also interesting that the party has received generous donations from developers who have something to gain from a second airport? Also that politicians who oppose the airport have told of bullying and threats from their own parties, being told to get with the program and do what the party wants instead of listening to their constituents.
This isn’t just a “not in my backyard” sort of rant. That’s part of it sure, none of us wants to live under a flight path. Though I might have been able to tolerate it if I felt it was necessary. That isn’t the case. The fact is we have a fully costed alternative that we know works overseas. I want that. Lot’s of us do.