Sydney’s second airport in the city’s western suburbs is coming slowly closer, and it may well be run by the same outfit that operates Sydney Airport.
The Australian Government has now provided a ‘Notice of Intention’ to Sydney Airport Group – setting out the formal contractual terms for Sydney Airport Group to develop and operate Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek.
Fletcher said 2016 had been a critical year for getting the essential regulatory and contractual preconditions in place for delivery of Western Sydney Airport. The provision in December of the Notice of Intention followed the approval of the final Airport Plan earlier in that month, and issuing the final Environmental Impact Statement in September.
As part of Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport being privatised in 2002, Sydney Airport Group was granted a Right of First Refusal to build and operate Western Sydney Airport. Under the terms of the Right of First Refusal the Commonwealth Government was required to consult with Sydney Airport before issuing a Notice of Intention.
The Notice of Intention comprises around 1000 pages of detailed legal documents; successive drafts have been provided to Sydney Airport Group throughout an extensive consultation process extending over some two years.
These documents specify the Commonwealth’s terms for developing and operating the Western Sydney Airport; if Sydney Airport Group accepts the Notice of Intention these will be the terms of the contract between the Commonwealth and Sydney Airport Group governing the construction and operation of Western Sydney Airport.
The Commonwealth considers that the consultation process has allowed Sydney Airport Group to become substantially familiar with the terms of the Notice of Intention, meaning that under the terms of the Right of First Refusal it has four months in which to accept the Notice of Intention.
Under the contract, Sydney Airport Group would be required to build the airport to the required standard – including a 3700-metre runway and a terminal with capacity for 10 million passengers a year. It sets out key milestones – with earthmoving works to commence by late 2018 and airport operations to commence by 2026.
All of the costs of building and operating the airport would be met by Sydney Airport Group in return for all of the economic benefits of ownership of the airport over 99 years.
Should Sydney Airport Group choose to decline the opportunity to build and operate Western Sydney Airport, the Government will be free to develop and operate the airport itself, or to offer the opportunity to other private sector companies on substantially the same terms as those offered to Sydney Airport Group today.
Fletcher said the Commonwealth had developed the terms in the Notice of Intention following extensive consultations with Sydney Airport Group and obtaining advice from a team of international technical experts.
“I am confident that the terms the Commonwealth has put to Sydney Airport Group are in the public interest – with a view to securing a high quality airport in the required time frame,” he said.
The terms set out in the Notice of Intention will allow for Western Sydney Airport to be built and operated so as to meet the needs of future passengers and continued demand for aviation services. As a greenfield airport, it will use the latest available technology and design principles, to be a truly 21st-century airport.
Importantly, the terms set out in the Notice of Intention align with and build upon the recently finalised Airport Plan, which includes binding environmental conditions.
The Turnbull Government’s work to deliver Western Sydney Airport will not stop during the period that Sydney Airport Group considers the Notice of Intention.
Work to demolish and clear structures on the airport site is continuing and is expected to be complete in coming months; geotechnical survey work is currently underway; soon a period of groundwater monitoring required under the Environmental Impact Statement will commence; and work is well underway on road connections to and around the site.
Over the next two years, key priorities include undergrounding the high voltage transmission line which runs across the site, and relocating part of the Northern Road which runs across part of the site, with this relocation to commence in 2017, as part of the AUD 3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan.
Edited by William Sykes