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The Forum on Western Sydney Airport (FOWSA) will consult with residents as plans proceed for the new airport, according to the responsible minister, but he is unable to say how.
Urban infrastructure minister Paul Fletcher was in the Mountains last week, meeting tourism operators.
In an interview with the Gazette, he said he “expected community consultation” but how it would happen was up to FOWSA and its head, Western Sydney University chancellor Professor Peter Shergold.
“It will be a question for Peter Shergold and FOWSA, their judgement on what lets them do their work most effectively and best engage with the community.
“I expect there will be significant public components.”
FOWSA’s 23 members include two from the Mountains – businesswoman Jo Bromilow and Luke Nicholls from council.
Mr Fletcher said the group had met twice and was considering opening parts of future meetings to the public. [Sydney Airport’s equivalent group holds its meeting in public.]
He declined to say why he rejected a request for Macquarie MP, Susan Templeman, to join the forum.
“Susan speaks to me pretty regularly about the airport. We have reasonably regular briefings within Parliament House where I brief colleagues – she’s a pretty regular attender at those.
“So she certainly takes a close interest in the airport and we make available opportunities for her to provide her views.”
Mr Fletcher said he expected there will be “inbound international traffic from day one” at the airport, most likely from Asia.
He was keen on ensuring the airport helped Mountains tourism by targeting Asian visitors on package tours. He believed if there were accommodation and activities in place, people would stay near Badgerys Creek and thus be close to the Mountains.
“Katoomba will be an hour’s drive from an international airport – that is a real game-changer.”
Katoomba will be an hour’s drive from an international airport – that is a real game-changer.- Paul Fletcher
Questioned about why the airport will not have a curfew, which Sydney Airport has, Mr Fletcher said at Sydney the nearest house was only a few hundred metres from the runway while at Badgerys Creek it will be more than 10 kilometres away.
And planes would be instructed to take off and land from the south-west, a ”very lightly populated area”.
He also said airport curfews were the exception rather than the norm around the world, citing Melbourne and Brisbane which do not have curfews.
When asked about airport access, Mr Fletcher spoke of the “$3.6 billion western Sydney infrastructure plan” connecting a new M12 to the M7 but acknowledged that would be a road link.
On the issue of a railway line, he said there was a “rail scoping study … looking at the question of when should rail be built to the airport, what’s the right route, how much will it cost and how should it be funded”.
He said fuel would have to be trucked in by road “in the early years” as also happens in other airports, like Canberra and the Gold Coast. As the airport grew there would be a study to look at putting a fuel pipeline in to take the trucks off the roads.
This article first appeared on www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au
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