Thursday, June 13, 2024

Progress questioned on Western Sydney Airport infrastructure

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Construction progress on Western Sydney Airport’s terminal in April 2024. (Image: Western Sydney Airport)

Concerns have been raised about infrastructure around Western Sydney International Airport (WSI) as the countdown to its opening passes 1,000 days.

Business groups have called for cheaper road solutions to ensure the new airport has ground connectivity when it opens in 2026, while also expressing worries about the progress of the Bradfield “aerotropolis” that will provide homes and businesses near WSI.

As reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, the Property Council of Australia has called on the Government to ditch “gold-plated” road infrastructure around the airport, with Western Sydney director Ross Grove saying additions like cycleways and footpaths should be scrapped.

“Nobody is going to hop on their bicycle with 20 kilograms of luggage to ride from Fairfield to Western Sydney Airport,” he said.

“Until we have an affordable road solution, international passengers to western Sydney will be landing on a runway surrounded by sheep paddocks and the occasional truck stop.”

Chief executive Tom Forrest, of property development lobby group Urban Taskforce, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the slow upgrade process on Mamre Road is “alarming” and called for agencies to collaborate on a task force to clear aerotropolis bottlenecks and make progress on infrastructure.

“The airport will open and be surrounded by fields with cows and the occasional pelican,” he said.

“There appears to be no leadership and accountability for infrastructure delivery as present arrangements are too ‘committee’ oriented, with all parties happy to see deadlines drift out while other agencies investigate issues.”

Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Catherine King turned the first sod on the airport’s business precinct on Wednesday alongside WSI CEO Simon Hickey and Charter Hall Industrial & Logistics CEO Richard Stacker.

Speaking to Mark Levy 2GB, Minister King described the airport as “73 per cent complete”, including the terminal buildings and runways, and pointed to the draft Master Plan for Bradfield City Centre released earlier this year.

Backed by more than $1 billion from the state government, the Bradfield aerotropolis is expected to include up to 10,000 new homes, with the government saying it will deliver 20,000 direct jobs. It is hoped the city will be established in line with the opening of WSI.

“We saw the Minns Government inherited this project, they released the master plan just in February, and that work is continuing, I think they’re looking at a new delivery authority or a coordinator to oversee the delivery of that critical infrastructure,” she said.

“But what we know is that in building the airport, that $5.3 billion that the Commonwealth is investing alongside additional money for the rail links, the road upgrades that are going through there, obviously the M12 [motorway has] been a significant investment, there are big opportunities for business.

“Now they’re not going to be built overnight, but that planning has been done, and I know that the Minns Government is working really hard, alongside the delivery authority to get that right.”

The Minister laid the blame for any delays at the feet of the previous NSW Coalition government, and maintained that the airport is on track to open in late 2026.

“I understand that the Minns Government inherited a bit of a mess here, and they’re having to really work their way through to make sure that that is investment‑ready, so that private sector investment can be done, and that’s why that master plan, or the draft master plan coming out in February was so important, and that work is being undertaken by the New South Wales Government,” she said.

“My job as the Federal Infrastructure Minister is to build the airport, but to work really closely with the New South Wales Government to make sure we’ve got that enabling infrastructure in place, and that work’s underway.”

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