The mammoth task of moving millions of cubic metres of soil for Sydney’s second major airport has kicked off for a project which Prime Minister Scott Morrison has labelled the “biggest game changer” for the city since the Harbour Bridge was built.
Bulldozers have begun moving about 1.8 million cubic metres of soil in the initial earthworks to prepare the ground for construction of a runway and terminal.
That will be followed by major earthworks next year when 22 million cubic metres will be shifted for the $5 billion airport at Badgerys Creek, about 50 kilometres from Sydney’s CBD.
At a sod-turning ceremony on Monday, Mr Morrison said the earthworks were an “engineering feat on their own” as he spruiked the growth in jobs from the airport.
“This is the biggest game changer, I think, for the city of Sydney since we built the Harbour Bridge – that’s how big a deal this is,” he said. “This is actually now finally happening.” About 11,000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, and about 28,000 within five years of the airport’s opening in 2026. The airport will become the size of Adelaide’s airport, catering for up to 10 million passengers a year.
Federal Cities and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said it would be a full-service airport from the day it opens, catering for both low-cost and premium airlines.
“This airport is going to deliver more choice, more convenience and with competition, downward pressure on airline prices,” he said. “When it opens, it won’t just be an airport but it’ll have a rail connection; it will have a motorway connection.”
While earthworks have begun on the Commonwealth-owned land, flight paths – one of the most controversial aspects – for Western Sydney Airport have still to be finalised.
About $75 million of a federal budget for the airport has been set aside to reduce the impact of aircraft noise and potentially compensate nearby residents badly affected.
Unlike Sydney Airport, the new airport at Badgerys Creek will operate without a curfew on flights when it opens in eight years.
The start of earthworks at Badgerys Creek comes as a raft of business groups including the Business Council of Australia have called for an easing of restrictions on aircraft movements at Sydney Airport.
The calls made in submissions to a Productivity Commission review of airports include an easing of the limit of 80 aircraft movements an hour.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also urged a review of aircraft operating restrictions at Sydney Airport to “ensure they remain appropriate”.