As recently reported in the media, Sydney Airport has been directed by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to bring forward its next master plan to July 2013 (the “Direction”), reducing the time for its development by one year.
Certain airports, including Sydney Airport, are required to produce a new 20-year master plan every five years, for approval by the Minister.
Master plans are required to include numerous matters. They are complex, long-term blueprints covering every aspect of airport operation and development, including air traffic forecasts, ground transport and environmental management plans, and future infrastructure requirements.
Prior to providing a draft master plan to the Minister, an airport must undertake numerous tasks, including preparing air traffic forecasts covering the 20-year period of the master plan. This must be followed by preparing an Australian Noise Exposure Forecast and having it endorsed by Airservices Australia. The airport also needs to prepare a ground transport plan which requires contribution from the NSW Government, an airport environment strategy and a commercial property development plan. The preliminary draft master plan must then be exhibited for 60 business days for public comment. Submissions received are then considered and taken into account in the draft master plan before being submitted to the Minister.
Current Master Plan
Our current master plan, for the period from 2009–2029, was approved by Minister Albanese on 19 June 2009.
Under the statutory framework, Sydney Airport has been working toward preparation of its next master plan, due 19 June 2014.
Sydney Airport’s “New Vision" and the Direction
Our December 2011 announcement of the ‘New Vision’ concept plan for Sydney Airport was an important milestone in the preparation of a new master plan. The New Vision is designed to support delivery of a more efficient airport configuration that would benefit airlines, the travelling public, the people of Sydney, NSW and Australia and many other interested parties.
Sydney Airport has embarked upon a thorough consultation process with numerous stakeholders including the airlines, state and federal government agencies and local communities to deliver a comprehensive new master plan in mid-2014. Bringing forward the submission date by almost 12 months will significantly curtail the consultation process.
We are also concerned about the ability of third parties to provide the necessary input required for a new master plan within the timeframe required by the Direction.
Sydney Airport is the gateway to Australia and the nation’s most significant piece of transport infrastructure and it is vital that adequate time is allowed for consultation about its development. It is not in anyone’s interest, particularly the national interest, to rush this master plan.
In the circumstances, we are both surprised and disappointed that the Minister has chosen to issue the Direction. We have exercised our right to ask the Minister to provide a statement of his reasons for doing so. As reported in the media, Sydney Airport is also seeking a review of the Minister’s decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Investment by Sydney Airport and Capacity
Sydney Airport has invested more than $2 billion since 2002 and is committed to undertaking further substantial investment to keep improving the quality and capacity of Sydney Airport.
As we have previously stated, Sydney Airport supports the federal government’s work on identifying a site for a second Sydney airport and preserving that site for the long term – regardless of whether it is needed in 2030 as reported in March this year by the State and Commonwealth Joint Study on Aviation Capacity for the Sydney Region (“the Joint Study”), or only after 2045, as assessed by Sydney Airport. The actions being taken to seek a review of the Minister’s Direction have nothing to do with the process of identifying this site.
Sydney Airport also supports the recommendations in the Joint Study for improving ground transport access in and around Sydney Airport (and is working with the NSW government to achieve that) and to optimise the use of Sydney Airport.