Australian Federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, has opened a new chapter in the search for a second Sydney airport with today's release of the government's draft National Aviation Policy Statement (Green Paper).
Mr Albanese stated, "no airport issue has been more controversial or long-standing than Sydney. The need for additional capacity in Sydney has been acknowledged for many years, but the challenge is obviously finding the right site for a second airport".
He added, "to find the right site we need to have the right process. The simple fact is that, while Sydney Airport is coping with growth at the moment, it is nearing capacity. The so-called peak hour at Sydney Airport has trebled in a decade from two hours a day to at least six hours a day. The legislated curfew and hourly movement cap at Sydney Airport will remain".
"Investment in aviation infrastructure is a long and complex process, and it's clear we need to take a long term view. Sydney Airport Corporation is currently working on its Master Plan which forecasts activity and development at the airport for the next twenty years. It is important this process concludes and that all stakeholders take the opportunities available for input into the plan. Once this plan is complete, I will establish a further process to identify additional capacity for the Sydney region", said Mr Albanese.
The Green Paper calls for a "new level of cooperation is required between federal, state and local government on airport planning and development, with clear consultation and decision-making processes".
The following extracts from the Green Paper focus on airport-related issues.
"For airport operators, it is essential that local planning schemes support the development of the airport and prevent development which would impact on current and future operations. In turn, planning authorities are seeking more effective input to airport development processes. The Government proposes to work with state governments to refine proposals for effective working arrangements, including the key initiatives outlined below:
- establishment of Airport Planning Advisory Panels, drawn from industry, community andgovernment, for each of the major airports, to provide independent expert analysis and advice to the Minister;
- examining the impact of airport development on surrounding transport and communityinfrastructure and how the leased federal airports might contribute to this infrastructure;
- strengthening of the airport Master Planning process to provide greater transparency andcertainty about future land uses at the airports;
- providing a power for the Minister to call for additional detail in precinct plans for areaswhich have been proposed for non-aeronautical development;
- a review of triggers for the airport major development process to ensure thosedevelopments of most interest to the community are subject to proper consultation;
- establishment of community consultation groups at each airport to foster effectivecommunity engagement in airport planning issues; and
- establishment of a clear policy on the definition of public safety zone areas aroundairports, which can be taken into account in local planning.
Airports are critical for isolated communities. The Government will provide support for the upgrade of aerodromes to improve safe access to essential air services in remote parts of Australia through the Remote Aerodrome Safety Program.
Our aviation infrastructure will no longer be viewed in isolation from national infrastructure planning. The Government will work closely with Infrastructure Australia to ensure the development of major airports is considered as part of Australia's broader infrastructure strategy.
Also, the Government proposes to introduce a formal 'show cause' process as an additional tool to be used where there is evidence of potential abuse of market power. The show cause notice would require airports to demonstrate why their conduct should not be subject to more detailed scrutiny, such as a formal price inquiry under the Trade Practices Act 1974.
In addition to monitoring charges to airlines for airport services, the Government is committed to making sure airports act reasonably in the charges collected from the travelling public and in the quality of services provided to the public. For example, car parking charges at major airports will continue to be monitored, with reports published regularly. Arrangements for monitoring quality of service are under review and, if necessary, will be enhanced to improve reporting on passengers' experiences at airports.
The Aviation Green Paper is the second of three steps in the development of Australia's first ever comprehensive national aviation policy. The process began with the release of an Issues Paper in April 2008 and will be completed with the release of a White Paper in the latter half of 2009, bringing all aspects of aviation policy into a single forward-looking statement.