24 October 2023


ABC Sydney Morning Show
24 OCTOBER 2023

SUBJECTS: Western Sydney International Airport Flight Paths EIS

Sarah Macdonald (Host): Did you pour over the flight path map for the new international airport that’s set to open in a couple of years in Badgerys Creek? Now, we have been inspecting it a lot over the month here at ABC radio, Sydney, to see who be copping some of that aircraft noise. Suburbs like Luddenham, Greendale, Kemps Creek, and Wallacia will be facing the brunt of it because they're right up next against the new airport.

But today, a draft environmental impact statement has been released by the federal government, and it looks more into the noise impacts. Within that statement there's some information about a proposed insulation policy for people in those areas that are really close to the airport. Does it need to expand further? And what are the changes to Kingsford Smith's flight paths too? We will explore this over the show this morning, you may be affected more no matter where you live in Sydney.

Well, let’s headfirst to the Blue Mountains area, Susan Templeman is the Federal Labor MP from Macquarie, and we're also going to head to Lindsay, which is the Penrith area. Good morning to you first, Susan Templeman, thanks for your time this morning.

Susan Templeman MP: Good to talk to you.

SM: What do you make of the environmental impact statement for your constituents?

ST: Well it is a huge document, it's thousands of pages, and it's going to take all of us some time to get to the bits that are most relevant to the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury which really gives us more information than than the initial flight path maps and noise tools did, including - I've already looked at the insulation program, of course, that's not something that applies to the Blue Mountains. But what we're really keen to get is feedback from people, about what they think would be mitigation for some of the flight paths that will absolutely impact this area and about which I've been very concerned for eight years, in fact.

SM: Yes, you've talked about this quite a lot, and I'll go to Melissa McIntosh, who the noise impacts in terms of the insulation, probably around her area of Lindsay. But does this statement, you said it has further information. What kind of information does it have? I appreciate you haven’t read the thousands of pages, but is it more detail about the flight paths or what else is it containing?

ST: There's all the technical documents that we've been keen to have a look at. So for instance the ambient noise testing there's a lot more background information on the data that was called up around the ambient noise testing for the Blue Mountains. Now, the overview of that is, obviously this is one of the quietest places you can be and really understanding how they calculated the noise impacts on that basis. So there's a lot of people in my community who have been wanting more technical information. And in the consultations that have happened to help people understand the preliminary flight paths, the answers were, well, there'll be more information on that in the EIS. So, this document really provides, I hope, some answers, but also additional information. I think the key thing is we have a long time to absorb it and respond to it. Eight years ago when we first learned about this airport and the flight Paths, we got everything on the one day; the flight paths, EIS, and we had a reasonably short time frame to respond and it was horrible. It was really hard to get your head around it all. What we've got now, we've had three months of absorbing the flight paths and pouring over them as you say. And now we've got until the end of January to work through this document. And I'm really urging people to do that to give me feedback on the things that are in there about the environmental impact of the flight paths, the human impact of the flight paths, and to work out how we as a community respond to this and what things we can ask for that will minimize the impacts that we experience.

SM: Susan Templeman is with me, she is the Federal Member for Macquarie. Melissa McIntosh is also here and I'll come back to Susan Templeman. Melissa McIntosh is the MP for Lindsay, Liberal MP, and she's closer to the airport for her constituents. Good morning to you.

Melissa McIntosh MP : Good morning.

SM: So which parts of your electorate will be copying the most noise?

MM: You're exactly right there, they will be copying the most noise. And once again, I find it extraordinary that Catherine King releases at 12:01 a.m. to the media without consulting my community first. I think Susan has had a bit more of a heads up then I have, I'm yet to be able to get stuck into the document. As Susan said, it's thousands of pages. So we'll be doing that today but I'm pretty annoyed that the Labor government is playing politics with something so essential as the EIS releasing at this time.

SM: How is it playing politics? I mean they've got to release it sometime,

MM: Well, at 12:01 a.m. without any notice. And it's the day after Senate estimates into infrastructure as well, where the government could have been answering some questions about this. So we'll see. I don't have the information yet. I've woken up to this news and I saw that Susan was able to put a post up before I even heard about this EIS, so we'll be looking through this. I want the best outcome for my community because we are absolutely under all those flight paths. We have 18 different flight paths, some are really low at 750 feet. I hope that my community gets access to those noise mitigation mechanisms. But as I said it's quite news to us for it happening today and I'll be looking to it further.

SM: Right well, Luddenham, Greendale, Kemps Creek and Wallacia look like they're going to get the brunt of it they’re nestled right up against the airport, so it's no big surprise and that's where there’ll be the insulation policy.

MM: Yeah, absolutely. We already knew we did have those flight paths, the draft ones that came out at 12:01am a few months ago. So this sort of style of tactic is not new. But I'll be ensuring that my communities and parts of Penrith as well, It's over the High Street of Penrith and over the Nepean River. I'm keen to look at the details of that as well. And also other impacts across the community like Cambridge Park and Cambridge Gardens. They’re getting impacted by both take off and landing. So it's not just, it's not just the homes right up against the airport. There's other homes across the community that will be experiencing low aircraft as well.

SM: And what are you hearing from your constituents, Melissa McIntosh in the penrith area and Lindsay Electorate?

MM: They've got concerns. So we were waiting for this so we could have our official say. They've got concerns because it's different. This is different from 2016, the fight paths have changed. Penrith wasn't as impacted back then, so they're wanting the best outcomes for the community. Obviously those noise mitigation measures and just a better understanding of how this community will be impacted by the aircraft noise.

SM: Alright, well so you'll be going through those thousand pages or so today and let us know what you find out. Thanks for your time this morning.

MM: Thank you.

SM: Melissa McIntosh is the member for Lindsay that covers the Penrith area and other areas very close to the airport. Susan Templeman is with us too, she's a Federal Labor MP for Macquarie. So, how long do you have now in terms of the response, the Liberal caught by surprise on this. How much time do people get to give feedback?

ST: Well, this is coming out exactly when the Federal Government said it would, when the flight paths came out in June we were told that sometime in October or November, there would be an EIS. We have been given until the 31st of January 2024 to provide submissions. And that's something I have urged for. I’ve urged for a lot of transparency, which was why those flight paths were released to give us plenty of time to understand them. And this now provides us with a lot of information to work through, too much to work through in a day, can I say, Sarah. It’s going to take a while. And there’ll also be opportunities for people to ask questions. So there's community consultation and there's details of that already on the website. And the first of that starts on Saturday the 4th of November in Saint Clair and work through the initial round. There's a whole list of them, including in the Inner West, Granville, and of course in my area in Blaxland, and places like Mount Druitt and Bella Vista. So there's already plans for this to be a really open process and I am assured that our feedback will be listened to. Last time, it felt like a real sham process where the community was really dissatisfied in 2015 and 2016 at the level of engagement we got. But already the Community Information Sessions we've had have included senior departmental people from the Department of Infrastructure who were doing this project, Air Services people, Western Sydney Help people. So I would urge people right across Sydney to go along to those sessions and ask the questions. And what we found was that if they couldn't answer those questions on the spot, there was very good email follow-up, and I think and I really hope this document now provides the next level of information we need. It doesn't mean people are going to like what's in the document but it informs them so we in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury will be able to make much more informed submissions in response to these preliminary flight paths.

SM: All right. And where do people find the EIS?

ST: You go straight to a website WSIflightpaths.gov.au. And it's there, every word of it's there.

SM: It is indeed, and we've been having a look at it this morning. Thanks for your time.

ST: Thanks, Sarah.

SM: Susan Templeman, who is the MP for Macquarie. We also spoke to the MP for Lindsay, Melissa McIntosh, who covers the area around Penrith and suburbs really adjacent to the airport.