Call to withdraw airport support

A call has gone out for Penrith City Council to withdraw support for Western Sydney Airport following the federal government’s final sign-off on the project.

The airport became a certainty today (December 12), as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joinedInfrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher to signoff on the plans.

But locals have expressed unease with what they believe are essential details missing from the plans.

Newly elected Labor councillor Ben Price said the plans failed to deliver on two essential criteria, and that Penrith City Council should withdraw its support for the project.

“Some of the preconditions for [previous council] support were a curfew to match Kingsford Smith Airport, government to commit to construct a North/South Rail Link, which would be fully operational before a flight took off and a number of other environmental conditions.

“Fast forward and we now have the airport approved without at least two of the critical pre-conditions being met.

“The curfew is not included in the plans and furthermore the Federal Infrastructure Minister, Paul Fletcher, has advised council that the airport will operate without a curfew.

“It doesn’t get much clearer than this.

“We are no closer to getting a north/south rail line. In fact the state government can’t even commit to reserving a rail corridor for the future construction of a line let alone having a fully operational service in place before the opening of the airport.

“Without a north/south rail line the residents of western Sydney will miss out on a lot of the benefit that an airport might bring to the area.”

Cr Price has called for a council report to see if otherenvironmental pre-conditions have been addressed in the final EIS, but said he was “not holding my breath”.

“There is now a clear case to argue that with many of our preconditions not being met that council ought to reconsider our position and either reaffirm our support and risk betraying the undertakings council make to our ratepayers or look to withdraw it,” he said.

“I believe council should withdraw its support for the airport.”

Lindsay MP Emma Husar described the final approval of the airport a “bitter farce”.

Mr Turnbull had given the projecthis tick of approval without a jobs plan being in place, without a commitment to rail infrastructure from day one and without the necessary site impact tests being completed, she said in a statement.

“On May 6, 2016, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure said the final flight paths would be contained in the final EIS, but they weren’t. We still don’t know what the flight paths will look like, and I can only suppose that means there’s something to hide,” she said.

“The Prime Minister has today approved an airport without actually knowing what it will mean to the communities, schools, families and businesses that will be affected.

“It’s a bitter farce, and the people of western Sydney have a right to feel conned and cheated by the actions of this Liberal government.”

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) alsoreaffirmed its concerns over the airport’s final approval conditions.

WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali said quality of life must be maintained for local residents.

“Currently, we do not have enough certainty that this will be the case,” he said. “Equity is a key concern for WSROC and unlike Kingsford Smith, Western Sydney Airport has no specific operating limitations, no noise abatement strategy, and no insulation or noise sharing programs.

“We don’t even know where the flight paths will be located.

“In addition to protections, WSROC wants to see the government’s plan for maximising the airport’s potential for employment, access to services, social inclusion, and regional connectivity.

“We need a transport network that gives both businesses and residents easy access to the airport and its surrounding employment lands. A single link to the city won’t cut it.”

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