Is the Government Really Working in Our Best Interests?

The government recently announced Badgers Creek will be a 24 hour airport. This news has been met with resistance from residents that never thought this day would come. A lack of government consultation and cooperation has left residents outraged.

Work is already underway for Badgerys Creek with the airport expected to be operational by 2026. Following Sydney Airports decision to not support the development, revealed in the latest budget. A government owned company known as WSA Co will fund the project. The Turnbull government have stated that “this new airport will be a major generator of economic activity – providing employment opportunities closer to home for the people of Western Sydney”. With the airport expected to generate around 20 000 direct and indirect jobs by early 2030’s.

While the creation of more employment opportunities is definitely a positive outcome. The government has neglected to acknowledge any negative effects of the airport upon the community. Most prominently including the impact a 24 hour airport will have on Western Sydney residents. In contrast Sydney Mascot airport only operates 16 hours a day.

Badgerys Creek Airport has been a hot topic of debate since the concept was first presented in 1946. Since then many have moved out of the hustle and bustle of the city in favour of the quieter mountains. Unaware of the noise soon to come. Residents were thus shocked when the government recently announced construction of the airport would go ahead. Affected residents have taken to the streets and social media in protest. Facebook group ‘No Badgerys Creek Airport’ has close to 1000 people liking and following. While ‘Residents Against Western Sydney Airport’ has 2500 members. Both groups regularly post airport updates and encourage the public to participate in protest rallies. Just last Friday the 19th of May Facebook group ‘Residents Against Western Sydney Airport’ organised a protest, right outside the office of Stuart Ayres(Member for Penrith). The group sang, chanted and played recordings of aircraft noise. Protesters said they were angry at remarks made by their Penrith MP, Stuart Ayres. Ayres stated that the idea of a curfew for a Western Sydney airport should be “dead and buried”. Considering Ayres is representing Penrith, this was a huge slap in the face for residents. Protesters stated that they were angry at his dismissive statement “Given that night-time flights could be occurring every 20 minutes, flying over houses with little or no insulation at an altitude of around 4,000 feet with noise levels of 60 – 70 decibels (loud enough to stop a conversation), he is thus condemning people in his electorate to sleepless nights and compromised health”. The protesters have attempted to arrange a forum to discuss impacts of the airport. But have been further meet with resistance by the government. Penrith Council agreed to have a forum after much protest but has yet to come through with their promise. A lack of government understanding and cooperation is thus extremely evident.

Local mayors of the Blue Mountains and Blacktown have condemned the government’s decision to go ahead with the airport. Stating that residents have not been given adequate information about noise and other effects of the flight paths. Blacktown City Council Mayor, Stephen Bali, said the full airport would manage more passenger movements than Heathrow, 24 hours a day, seven days a week “Why are western Sydney residents subjected to 24/7 noise when eastern Sydney can go to bed at 10:00pm and wake up at 6:00am with a good night’s sleep?” he said. While Blue Mountains City Council Mayor, Mark Greenhill questions “How the Government could approve a new airport without even knowing what the flight paths area”. The flight paths have been a source of worry and concern for most Western Sydney residents. The government has yet to produce a final flight plan. Instead stating that “Designing and finalising flight paths is a large and complex task that takes several years to complete”. This basically means that residents that will be directly effected won’t be notified until close to the airports finish date. This is most likely being done to reduce uproar from affected residents.

Previously the government produced a flight plan they have now retracted due to protests from the Blue Mountains council and concerned residents. The flight plan was predominantly over the lower Blue Mountains, with planes intersecting over the serene areas of Blaxland and Glenbrook. This was unaccepted to Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill who found that Blaxland and Glenbrook residents would be disrupted approximately 100 times a day and night by aircraft noise of 70 decibel readings. Which would have equalled to standing near 200 lawn mowers each day. Although the government has at present retracted this plan, since there is no definite flight path, residents could still be experiencing this unbearable noise when the airport is completed. Once again the government has shown no concern for residents in creating this flight path when they could’ve opted to fly over more uninhabited land for a slightly longer journey.

In conclusion, the government needs to once again focus on working in the public’s best interests. By working with residents, listening to their concerns. The government can produce a better plan taking into account its residents.

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