Earlier Newsletters

September 2012 Volume 17, Issue 2

Most new estates not on Wilton flight paths                           

Less than 10 percent of the developer proposed housing estates near Wilton would be near the likely flight paths.  Developers have asked the NSW Government for rezonings to allow 26,000 homes to be built in large estates within 13 kilometres of the proposed Wilton airport site.  The Herald reported that these estates could torpedo plans for an airport at Wilton.  It is important that no new housing is built where people would later be affected by aircraft noise, but almost all the proposals are north of Wilton and away from the noise footprint in the 1985 EIS for a major second airport.  There should be no rezoning for new housing until the flight paths for Wilton are established.

No Aircraft Noise wants a thorough environmental, economic and social assessment of Wilton as a new airport to replace the present Sydney Airport.  We want to minimise the number of people affected by aircraft noise and properly compensate anyone who does get affected.  It is important that there is a transparent and proper decision process which includes people in the Wilton area.  The decision on whether to build a new airport there should include the comparison with feasible alternatives.  There is also concern in more distant areas like the Illawarra and the Southern Highlands and Wilton flight paths will need to avoid residential areas.

Forty properties would need to be purchased for the new airport site.  The estates north of Wilton could provide housing for airport workers.  There will also need to be an industrial zone for freight handling, maintenance and airport services.  This could be near, but not under the flight paths.  Express and regular train services are needed and if a very fast train is built, Wilton could be the first stop south of Sydney.

Albanese pushing Sydney Airport to expand, running a three airport policy

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has demanded that Sydney Airport bring forward their next Master Plan by one year to 2013.  Albanese wants the airport to “invest in terminal, apron, taxiway and other improvements to operate Sydney Airport to maximum efficiency”.  The agenda is clear, “maximum efficiency” means maximum noise from pushing through the largest number of passengers in the biggest jets.

The minister and member from Grayndler also plans to increase road and rail traffic to the airport, worsening congestion and pollution in the inner west.

Sydney Airport has resisted and taken Albanese to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to try to keep the original Master Plan timetable.  The airport wants to keep expanding, but is still negotiating with Qantas and Virgin to get a complete reorganisation of the terminals to increase passenger handling capacity.

Albanese has asked for Richmond RAAF airport to be assessed for “limited civil operations”.  Using Richmond’s short runway for small and medium sized aircraft would free up space at Mascot for more big noisy jets.

The much publicised airport at Wilton will get preliminary studies into its suitability and is planned only to follow expansion at Mascot and Richmond.  It would then become Sydney’s third airport. Albanese plans will increase noise on Sydney residents, his only concern is to maximize aviation capacity.  Three airports would give us the noisiest and least efficient aviation set up for Sydney.

Noise problem, capacity problem, what problem?

The Liberal Party is avoiding dealing with the limitations of Sydney Airport.  Federal leader Tony Abbott said “it’s important that we improve the experience of people travelling in and out of Sydney by air.  In the immediate future, that means sorting out the traffic problems that are gridlocking Sydney Airport at peak times.  Down the track it means better use of Sydney Airport.  It means better use of Bankstown and Richmond and, yes, it means better use of other airports too.”  Is this a four airport policy? We don’t know because Abbott would not say whether he supported a second major airport for Sydney.

It is totally unrealistic for NSW Premier O’Farrell to suggest that Canberra could be Sydney’s second airport, connected by a Very Fast Train.  Nobody is going to take a train to Canberra to then fly somewhere else.  O’Farrell is just ignoring the problem that Sydney Airport is running out of capacity, even though that limits Sydney’s economic future.

There is a sad history of failure by the Liberal Party, which has put the airport and business users ahead of the public and Sydney’s long term aviation needs. NSW Liberal Premier Greiner and Opposition Leader Howard pushed for the third runway, a short term way to keep the airport in the city.  In government, Howard spread the noise and reopened the east-west runway.  Liberal MP Paul Zammit lost the seat of Lowe as a result, but Howard removed the take offs from his seat of Bennelong.

Having “solved the noise problem”, Howard then leased the airport to Macquarie Bank.  He put business ahead of people and tried to minimize the voter backlash in Liberal electorates.  However, allowing Sydney Airport to continue to expand puts Liberal seats on the lower north shore in the path of increasing noise and discontent.

Minister drowned out by jet noise

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese was opening a new library at Stanmore Public School when he had to stop talking as a big jet went overhead. He remarked that the jet was a good argument for a second airport.  It should be a good argument for a replacement airport, as these jets will continue to fly over the school even with a second airport.

Albanese’s demand on the Sydney Airport to do a new Master Plan to “maximise efficiency” will mean more 400 tonne aircraft inflicting pain on these children and his constituents. In five years as Minister, he has not stopped these noisy monsters of the sky or made Sydney Airport meet their operating plan commitments. Remember a maximum of 17% of all movements is supposed to be the limit over the north.  In June the north copped 30.52% of movements, 79% above the target!

Between a dark shadow and a noisy place

The latest proposal for redevelopment at the Tigers club in Rozelle has tall towers intruding into protected airspace for the third runway flight path.  One proposed tower would be 32 stories high, with two more at 26 stories.  Sydney Airport has objected to the intrusion into airspace and said they plan a 75% increase in flights to an average of 115 flights a day over Rozelle.  A bad day would have twice that number.

London dilemma: expand Heathrow or move it? 

Dan Milmo, Industrial Editor for the Guardian (10 June 2012), reports that a third runway for Heathrow will be re-examined. All parties understand the need “to increase airport capacity particularly in the south-east”. However there are competing ideas for a solution.

Boris Johnson, the London mayor, favours “a new airport in the south-east, with options including a new site in the Thames estuary”. The Cameron UK Government has a stated position against Heathrow expansion, but has refused to confirm that stance recently. BAA (the Heathrow owner) is pushing for the Heathrow third runway option.

The UK government will launch two aviation documents: a consultation on a “sustainable aviation framework”; and a request for options on maintaining airport hubs in the UK.  Thus options included in the second document must fit with the framework outlined in the first document.

Health risks keep curfew at Frankfurt airport 

Germany’s highest administrative court has upheld the night curfew at Frankfurt Airport, where the suburb of Raunheim experiences over flights at almost 80 decibels.  Mayor Thomas Juhe said, “It gets pretty wild, every single airplane passing over is so loud that you can’t hear yourself speak.” 

The German Federal Environmental Agency supported the ban on night flights and claims that the health risk of aircraft noise is underestimated. The Agency said that it can cause cardiovascular problems and sleep disorders. Higher patient numbers and even premature deaths occur.

Uwe Brendle for the FEA said, “we have calculated an additional 400 million Euros in costs for treating people with cardiovascular problems in the Frankfurt area.”  The EU Commission estimates the costs of aircraft noise in member states at about 40 billion Euros a year.  Source: Deutsche Welle

Sydney Airport blamed for Brisbane getting the G20

Brisbane will be hosting the G20 summit of world leaders in 2014 with the Federal Government blaming the lack of aircraft parking space at Sydney Airport.  Sydney has only one third the land area of Brisbane Airport and half the area of Melbourne.

May 2012 Volume 17, Issue 1

Report says maximise Mascot and a second airport is urgent

The Sydney Aviation Capacity Study by a joint NSW/Federal Government committee says the present airport is rapidly running out of space and more capacity is urgent. After expanding Mascot to the limit, they want Bankstown and Richmond airports made available for regional flights, and then build a second airport at Badgerys or near Wilton. Or would that be a fourth Sydney airport?

Despite a move to larger aircraft with higher load factors, aircraft numbers will continue to grow, with increased delays, lack of access for new airlines, a reduction of noise sharing and increased traffic congestion around Mascot.

Wilton is Labor’s new choice but not as a replacement airport

Transport Minister Albanese has rejected Badgerys Creek and will examine a location south of Wilton as a site for a second Sydney airport. There will be a scoping study which may be followed by an Environmental Impact Statement, if the federal government decides to go ahead.Wilton was assessed as suitable for a major second airport in 1985, along with Badgerys Creek.

The Hawke Labor Government chose Badgerys, but built a third runway at Mascot after lobbying from the airlines and the Greiner NSW Liberal Government.

The airport site is 5 km south of the small town of Wilton, about 75 km from the centre of Sydney. It is near the main southern railway and the Hume Highway and can be linked into the suburban train network. Almost all the noise would be over unpopulated areas, much of it water catchment. All of Sydney’s water has been filtered since the Giardia and Cryptosporidium crisis twelve years ago.

Moving Sydney Airport to Wilton would give us an efficient airport able to take the next 50 years aviation growth. Wilton must be assessed as a replacement airport for Sydney.

Australian Standards not double standards

The land use guidelines in the Australian Standards (AS 2021) for buildings affected by aircraft noise should be followed and this should be part of the assessment for Wilton. The 1985 study found that only a few hundred people would be affected by noise from an airport near Wilton. All would be able to be compensated in accord with the standards, unlike what happens with Mascot.

It’s not possible to achieve the Australian Standards with the existing airport whose latest plans show that homes out to Hunters Hill should be insulated and nobody should be living with the level of noise between Leichhardt and the airport, even with insulation.

Situation normal with no co-operation

The NSW Government does not agree that there needs to be more airport capacity in Sydney. The report said that regional airlines could use Bankstown and Richmond airports, so maybe that is what they plan as Sydney Airport becomes choked.

NSW Premier O’Farrell said that they do not support another airport within the Sydney basin.Instead O’Farrell is pushing for a very fast train to Canberra, which would become Sydney’s second airport. Doing nothing will allow the most profit for the monopoly owners of Sydney Airport, as well as make it more likely that regional airlines will end up at Bankstown and Richmond. This also brings more pressure to lift the curfew at Mascot.

Qantas and tourism lobby support second airport

Qantas has come out in favour of a second airport - up until now they have resisted any new airport as they have the best of the available slots at Mascot. It is probable that they want space for Jetstar expansion into the Asian budget airline market. Qantas doesn’t want to say whether they prefer Badgerys or Wilton.

The Tourism and Transport Forum also supports a second airport but said that Sydney (population 4 million) must have more than one airport, code for saying they want to keep Mascot. They quote Los Angeles, (15 million), Paris (9 million), Bangkok (7 million) and Hong Kong (6 million) which all have more than one public transport airport. Berlin and Athens, both with populations over 3 million are able to operate with the one airport outside the city.

Moore-Wilton not yet reached max

Sydney Airport boss Max Moore-Wilton said no second airport is needed and that MPs are just playing to their noise affected voters. No such accusation could be made against Sydney Airport which wants to run those fully laden Jumbo jets with 160 tonnes of fuel over our homes from 7 am to 10 pm (on a busy day in 2029).

The airport is planning to increase the terminal handling rates by a major reshuffle away from separate domestic and international terminals. Moving Qantas and Virgin and their airline alliances into a terminal each is aimed at using international gates for domestic flights after the early morning international peak hour.

Taking it easy with Albanese

In just four and a half years as Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese has already achieved three major reports: an Aviation Green paper, an Aviation White Paper and the latest, the Sydney Aviation Capacity Study.Now Anthony has commissioned a Scoping Study for Wilton and then an Environmental Impact Study.

Just in time for the next federal election when he will be able to boast of his great progress and blame Tony Abbott later on.Labor has a proud tradition of planning a second Sydney airport and not delivering. Anthony reminds us that if Paul Keating had not lost the 1996 election, Badgerys Creek would have an airport today. He only had 13 years to get it built. The Hawke and Keating governments did an EIS and bought land at Badgerys, with announcement in 1986 that a major two runway airport would be built.

They got side tracked into building the third runway at Mascot, but Nick Greiner made them do that. Even so they announced a 1200 metre runway for Badgerys and the first sod was turned in 1992. Later an 1800 metre runway was announced and then a 2900 metre runway able to take international jets was fast tracked by Laurie Brereton, but no construction was ever started.

Albanese has also approved Sydney Airports Master Plan allowing expansion up to 2029. We will look at the Liberals’ grand achievements in our next issue.

Berlin moves out

Schoenefeld, an existing small airport will be expanded, renamed Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport and become Berlin’s new airport. The city will close down the Berlin Tegel Airport having closed Berlin Templehof Airport in 2008. Willy Brandt Airport will have two parallel runways with the terminals in between with a railway station underneath and connection to the new A113 Autobahn.

The airport will have an initial capacity of 27 million passengers per year, with expansion possible to 45 million per year, and will be the third largest German airport after Frankfurt and Munich.

Aircraft noise can raise your blood pressure even while you sleep

A study of 140 volunteers living near London’s Heathrow Airport and three other European airports has found that aircraft noise can boost blood pressure while people are asleep. Researchers said the higher the noise, the bigger the increase in blood pressure.

High blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. Dr Lars Jarup of the Imperial College, London said, “We know that noise from air traffic can be a source of irritation. But our research shows that it can also be damaging for people’s health, which is particularly significant in light of plans to expand international airports.”

An earlier study of 5,000 people found that an increase of 10 decibels in night time aircraft noise increased the risk of high blood pressure by 14% in both men and women. Nothing is being done to protect our health from the ever expanding noise from Sydney Airport.

December 2011 Volume 16, Issue 2

Sydney Airport caught in misleading noise claim

Sydney Airport has repeated a Boeing claim that the new 787 jet (the “Dreamliner”!) is 60% quieter than the 30 year old Boeing 767 which it replaces. Sydney Airport CEO Kerry Mather was quoted in the eastern suburbs Southern Courier newspaper.

In 2008, the UK Advertising Standards Authority ruled that claim was misleading on the headings of truthfulness, other comparisons and environmental claims. The claim was technically correct in that the newer jet affected an area 60% less at 85dBA. That is a very high noise level, which will show a greater difference between the planes noise footprints than lower levels which spread further.

The authority said an observer would not experience the plane as 60% quieter. Boeing told the authority the 787 was 4.5dBA (decibels) quieter than the older plane and that 3dBA was a halving of noise energy. However, the authority “understood from the CAA that the measurement of a 3dBA decrease as a 50% reduction in noise level, which was used by the London airports, was in fact a barely perceptible difference and therefore the typical noise level reductions for some people within the noise footprint of the aircraft would only be just discernible.”

Airbus says that a 10 decibels reduction is needed before people perceive the noise as halved. The misleading press release by the airport is still on their website.

German court says Frankfurt curfew means no planes

A deal with the affected community to build a fourth runway at Frankfurt Airport in Germany included a promise of a curfew from 11 pm to 5 am. The airlines thought they could continue to operate 17 flights overnight and were encouraged by the state government which had made the deal.

The state court held that the curfew meant that zero flights were allowed during the curfew period. Employees of Lufthansa have been threatened with losing their jobs after the German national airline failed to make new arrangements to cope with the curfew.

There is an appeal to the German High Court which will be heard during 2012.

Virgin boss wants maximum growth and to “adjust” the curfew

John Borghetti, the boss of Virgin Airlines recently said, “I don’t know that there are many cities around the world that are fortunate to have an airport within 8km of the city…So I see that as a strong asset, and I see that as something we should try to find a way of growing, not shrinking.”

“Now that said, there are constraints, all sorts of constraints. Obviously there are caps of movements per hour, which are there for various reasons. There are constraints in terms of land and terminal space.”
“How do we free up more capacity at the current Sydney airport so that we maximise it as much as possible. Whether that’s increasing the movement cap or adjust the curfew, or changing the type of airplanes that fly there.”

“It’s a difficult question because there are all sorts of different interests involved from political to infrastructure… But it is a big issue and it’s an issue I think impacts tourism, it impacts domestic travel. To get up and say, ‘let’s build another airport and shut this one’, or take half the services from this one and put it into that one, I think that’s a pretty bold move because you’re giving up something that other cities would kill for…a location so close. It facilitates business so easily.”

Borghetti also thanked Transport Minister Albanese for allowing Virgin to break the curfew during Qantas lockout. A Virgin jet was recorded at 74dBA (decibels) above Leichhardt at 11.30pm on October 30. This noise was 34 decibels above the background at that time of night and disturbed thousands of sleeping people

Editorial: A livable city

A city is more than a business district and an airport; it is a place for people, a place for healthy and enjoyable living. Mr Borghetti doesn’t seem to understand the reasons for the “constraints” he wants to change – they are there precisely because Sydney has an inner city airport.

The curfew, which is only 7 hours long, is there because people need uninterrupted sleep every night. The movements cap was introduced when there were so many planes flying over the inner west that people revolted and the politicians decided to limit the impact of jets on our homes, schools and public buildings.

There are also limits on what can be built on the flight paths, standards that the councils enforce on developers and home builders. But the aviation industry, the airport and successive governments have ignored these standards and allowed the noise to continue rising.

If you look at the noise maps in the airport’s Master Plan and read the land use standards on the corner of the maps, you can see that a huge area of Sydney is already subject to aircraft noise above the limits set. Borghetti and the aviation industry would make it worse, but we won’t let them.

That’s why No Aircraft Noise continues to say that the airport should be moved outside of the city, connected by a rail service to allow business types and everyone else to have good access.

Airport boss chairs Botany region transport committee

Less than 10% of Port Botany containers are being moved by train, with trucks jamming local and regional roads. The NSW Liberal government has dropped the target for containers on trains from 40% to 28%, saying the former Labor government’s target was unrealistic. The government has appointed Max Moore-Wilton to head a working group to recommend improvements to Botany region transport.

It’s a bit easy to predict what a committee headed by the chairman of Sydney Airport will recommend for transport in the Port Botany region. The airport wants a lot more motorways to deliver customers to the airport’s car parks.

The idea of dropping the ticket surcharge to the airport railway stations is a good one, as we don’t want the airport making as much pollution on the ground as it does in the air. Why isn’t the public involved in finding the best transport solution for Sydney?

Sydney Airport denied that it wants more people to drive to the airport. “Sydney Airport has long campaigned for the removal of station access fees to the two airport stations. We have also called for the expansion of bus services to the airport, as well as introduced free parking at both the terminals - ours is the only capital city airport to do so”, a spokesman wrote to the Herald.

Sydney Airport’s 2009 Master Plan states that the airport encourages the NSW government to “improve motorway connections to Sydney Airport, through regional links such as the M4 Extension and improvements to the M5 East Motorway,” along with improvements to public transport.

Developers worried but not the airport

Developers are concerned that restrictions on building new homes in high noise areas may be tightened, but Sydney Airport isn’t worried because they have been allowed to increase noise into unaffected areas by Liberal and Labor governments. This is fantastic hypocrisy – the polluter is allowed to increase pollution, but the restrictions fall on those who are polluted.

Developer lobby the Urban Taskforce told the Herald that if the existing ANEF (Australian Noise Exposure Forecast) system was changed, developments like Green Square and Victoria Park would not be allowed.

Above 25 ANEF new housing is not acceptable even with noise insulation. A possible new N70 system may increase the prohibited area by 185 square kilometres where aircraft noise went above 70 decibels more than an average of 10 times a day. The federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese intends to keep the current planning system.

The airport’s 2029 Master Plan predicts the noise will be above the 20 ANEF limit for homes without noise insulation on flight paths out to Hunters Hill, Croydon, Randwick, Hurstville and Kurnell.

The airport should comply with the standards or move out.

No takers for $1.27 million airport job

Sydney Airport was unable to find a suitable outside applicant for the post of Managing Director, despite a world wide search. They had to appoint Kerry Mather, the head of MAp (formerly called Macquarie Airports) which owns 74% of the airport. Mather keeps her job as MAp CEO and its $1.7 million salary, but doesn’t get the extra $1.27 million for doing the second job.

St Peters gas drilling could disrupt Sydney Airport

Inner Sydney residents are angry at the proposed coal seam gas drilling next to Sydney Park, but a production well could disrupt flights for several days every few years. A Queensland farmer, who is campaigning against gas drilling on his farm, told residents there was a 5km aircraft exclusion zone around a gas well when the pumps were changed.

May 2011 Volume 16, Issue 1

Albanese admits Sydney Airport cannot cope

The Federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese has admitted again that the airport cannot cope with the expected increase in traffic. Albanese told the Sydney Morning Herald that “Sydney needs a second airport sooner rather than later. Without action the national economy will be constrained with a negative impact on growth and jobs.”

An analysis by the consultants Booz and Company shows that bad weather will cause increasing delays at Sydney Airport, which will flow on to disrupt flights throughout the country. By 2020 a strong crosswind during two hours of the morning peak would cause delays over the following five hours. The analysis was prepared for a federal government inquiry into a second airport.

Paul Fitzgerald, former Marrickville Greens councillor, wrote in a letter to the Herald: “Sydney does not need a second airport. It needs a replacement airport.”

“A second airport would make things far worse for the people who live under Sydney Airport’s flight paths because it would allow aircraft smaller than jets to be removed. The 27 percent of air traffic capacity that is now taken by those planes would then be available for large jets – which are noisier, more polluting and more dangerous.”

“If a replacement airport were built outside the Sydney basin and connected by fast train, the site of the current airport could become a residential and employment precinct.”

Albanese has ruled out consideration of a replacement airport which means he is failing to even look at the most viable alternative.

Noise limits artificial says Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport is constrained by an 80 movements an hour cap, intended to limit the noise impact on residents. The slot manager said there is increasing pressure on peak hour slots with seven hours a day when airlines want more than 80 flights per hour.

Sydney Airport’s response is to ask for the cap to be lifted in a submission to the Productivity Commission. “The 80 movements per hour cap is an arbitrary regulatory cap that does not reflect the capacity of the infrastructure at Sydney Airport,” they told the Herald. The airport would like regional aircraft exempted from the cap, so that they can cram more large noisy jets through in peak hours.

Who cares about the noise which continues to rise? The noise from the airport is way above the Australian Standards for aircraft noise in residential areas, but these standards are not enforced on Australian airports.

Sites named include Wilton

Wilton, the best near city site for a major airport to replace the present inadequate operation, was named in the list in the second airport story. Wilton is just 20km south of Campbelltown and was assessed in 1985 as a possible site for a major second airport for Sydney. Unlike Badgerys Creek, it has not had large scale housing built nearby.

Far out sites mentioned include Williamstown, north of Newcastle, and Canberra, both too far to be any use as a new Sydney airport. Suburban locations like Bankstown, Richmond and Camden have too much nearby housing for the existing small airports to take regular jet traffic.

The Central Coast was also listed as a possible second airport site. There was a proposal in the 1990’s to expand the small airport at Warnervale, just north of Wyong. Wyong Council wanted a 24 hour airport with 65,000 flights a year. Residents took the council to court and lost, with costs awarded against them. The Carr Labor Government intervened, paid the residents costs and limited the airport’s size. There has been a lot of new housing in the area since then.

Sydney Airport owners accused of avoiding tax in Denmark

Denmark’s largest broadsheet “Politiken” has published allegations against MAp Airports (part owner of Copenhagen airport and main shareholder in Sydney Airport), of exploiting a tax loophole. MAp is accused of avoiding withholding tax to the tune of $100m on earnings from the country’s main airport at Copenhagen. Map was previously known as Macquarie Airports, before it paid the parent company, Macquarie Bank, $345 million to cease managing it.

The three major stakeholders in the airport are MAp (30.8% and formerly managed by Macquarie Group), the Danish Government (39%), and a Macquarie-managed fund called Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 3 (26.9%). The allegations which are being investigated have been denied by the chairman of Copenhagen Airport and by MAp.

Make public transport to the airport cheaper

The NSW Labor Government started subsidising fares on the privately owned rail line to the airport just before it left office. This move resulted in more people using the line as ticket prices are now the same as on other rail lines. However the only stations subsidised were Green Square and Mascot, not the two airport stations.

Recent NSW Parliamentary Budget Office analysis suggests that buying the rail line would be a better deal than subsidising the private owners for the extra cost of the fares on an ongoing basis. The price tag for the rail line is expected to be $300m or less.

What better way to increase usage of the rail line? Fares would be cheaper for now and the future. If the rail line is more popular with airport users, the roads to the airport will be less congested, and we will have less cars parking at the airport for exorbitant rates.

Dick Smith safe in Terry Hills

Aviation personality and Terry Hills resident, Dick Smith, has promoted the big quiet planes myth. In a letter to the Herald, he said “a stable population, coupled with quieter and larger aircraft, would render Sydney Airport sufficient for our long-term needs.” For Dick’s information, the big new “quiet” Airbus A380 is right up there with all the other regular noisy jets, but is slightly quieter than the Boeing 747, a design whose first version flew in the 1970’s.

Airport monopoly allows price gouging

Sydney Airport sits on a monopoly. There is no alternative if you want to fly into or out of Sydney. So they are able to put up prices for services like parking and get away with it.

Having a monopoly also means they do not have to provide a good service, or provide for all Sydney’s air traffic needs. Privatisation does not work with a monopoly which is only partly regulated.
December 2010 Volume 15, Issue 3

Curfew and cap under pressure as airport fills up fast

Sydney Airport is running out of capacity even faster than was earlier forecast. The crisis point will be reached first in the peak hours when the demand runs over the cap which is set at 80 movements an hour.

An analysis of a BITRE (Bureau of infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics) report by the Sydney Morning Herald said the cap would be breached within eight years, unless the federal government acted to prevent this.

The cap legislation may not be enforceable as it only requires Air Services Australia to report breaches of the cap to the minister.

There have already been seven breaches during 2010, when the cap had only been exceeded once in the previous nine years.

Qantas and Virgin Blue both want the cap lifted and the curfew eased to allow more aircraft through Sydney Airport. The Sydney Airport (Regulation of Movements) Bill 1996 set out to cap movements in order to limit the noise imposed on residents.

Grayndler marginal as Transport Minister loses 9%

Aircraft noise was a big factor in the 9.37% swing against Labor’s ineffective Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.

The Greens candidate, Sam Byrne, said the airport should be moved out of Sydney, while Albanese didn’t mention aircraft noise at all in his campaign literature.

The Greens vote increased by 7.26% in Grayndler which has been abandoned to a relentless increase in aircraft movements by its local member.

No Aircraft Noise distributed 40,000 leaflets to homes in the electorate, urging a vote for the Greens. The swing against Albanese was higher in the noisier areas of Grayndler.

Albanese now holds the seat by only 4.23% above the Greens, who received most of the Liberal voters’ preferences.

People, planning or profit? Three ways to move the airport

People: The airport should be moved to protect the people of Sydney from its relentless expansion of noise and pollution. If people really mattered, then no government would continue to ignore our human rights to a decent quality of life and flout the land use recommendations of the ANEF system.

As affected people, we must apply continuing pressure to protect ourselves. Thanks to the Greens’ and NAN’s efforts, the noisiest electorate in Australia is now a marginal seat. This puts pressure on the Labor Party to act on moving the airport.

Planning: If planning for the future ever became a priority for NSW and federal governments, the airport would be moved outside the city. Sydney would gain a decent airport, able to handle all future traffic and decent living conditions for all.

The nearest practical site is near Wilton, 20 km south of Campbelltown. An Environmental Impact Study should assess its suitability as Sydney’s only airport. The new airport would be connected to Sydney and Wollongong using fast electric trains.

The old airport site would provide 900 hectares of prime bay side land for new housing, parkland and employment.

Profit: Greed is the big mover in Sydney. Greedy banks, greedy developers, greedy motorway operators and greedy corporations are always trying to increase their profits. As the land value of the airport site increases, they will want to redevelop it to cash in.

One way or another, the airport has to move.

Qantas near disaster would have hit north of Parramatta

Just 20 km from takeoff in Singapore, a giant Qantas Airbus A380 had an engine blow up and parts were scattered on the Indonesian island of Batam. Two people were injured and a school damaged on November 4. If the plane had been taking off to the north in Sydney, the engine parts would most likely have come down just north of Parramatta.

Fifty alarms went off in the cockpit as engine parts ripped through the wing. The Airbus had to land at Singapore 50 tonnes over its maximum landing weight. It was still not safe as fuel kept pouring from the damaged wing. One engine could not be turned off and four tyres had blown.

Qantas can’t keep the GST from no shows and cancellations

Qantas wanted to avoid paying the GST from fares on cancelled or missed flights, where the passenger did not receive a refund. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has ruled that Qantas must pay the tax. Just because Qantas did not actually carry a passenger did not mean that they had not made a “supply” under the GST laws.

Noise sharing not working

At the Marrickville Town Hall candidates meeting, Albanese boasted that noise sharing targets for the week ended 6 August had almost been reached. It was down to 19% from the usual 25 to 30% for flights north of the airport.

The voters at the meeting reacted with angry disbelief that this meant that aircraft noise had been reduced to an acceptable level.

There have been just three weeks in his term as Transport Minister that the noise has been within 5% of the target for north of the airport. August had 21.6% flights to the north and it was back up to 25.6% in September.

Under the airport’s 2029 Master Plan, approved last year by Albanese, the airport will operate from 6.30 in the morning to 9.30 at night using the two North – South runways, meaning that noise sharing will no longer be possible.

Noise sharing is a limited idea and masks the reality that the total noise dumped on Sydney’s people will increase as flights go from 280,000 in 2007 to a massive 420,000 in 2029.A

August 2010 Volume 15, Issue 2

Curfew under attack as airlines blast through the fog

Airlines, including Qantas, are pushing a loophole in the curfew law and flying over the inner west when we are supposed to be left in peace. Landing from over Botany Bay is allowed between 5 and 6 am. But these planes have attempted to land in the fog and when they find they don’t have enough visibility (surprise!) they fly on over the inner west waking people as they go.

A loophole in the curfew law means they get away with this outrageous attack on our sleep. This happened last September when Qantas and British Airways tried to land during the dust storm and then flew around the inner west before 6 am. Transport minister Albanese has not changed the law to close this loophole.

On Thursday 29 July there were five flights before 6 am. Two planes, a Lear jet from Adelaide and a Qantas 747 jumbo jet actually made two unsuccessful attempts to land, flying on over the suburbs each time. The following day there were more planes before 6 am as the pilots tried to land in the fog.

This must stop! The curfew law must be amended so that aircraft are not allowed to land before 6 am if the weather means they cannot do so safely. Albanese is fast asleep and has failed to stop this outrage. Qantas and other airlines don’t think there should be a curfew anyway, because their modern planes are so quiet. See the story below about aviation apologist Tom Ballantyne.

New air navigation system threatens more political flight paths

A new navigation system, based on satellite navigation will be introduced into Australian airports. Sydney residents were not informed, even though agreements have been signed several years ago.

Unlike the present set up where aircraft follow a long straight flight path when landing, the new system allows curved and dog leg flight paths. The final approach to an airport can be joined as close as 2 kilometres to the end of the runway. Planes can fly almost any path on landing as well as take off.

This gives new opportunities for political manipulation of flight paths, where flight paths could be kept off marginal electorates and dump on safe seats. Flight paths could change with every new federal government. All suburbs within 20 km of the airport are at risk.

A US company has won a $10 million contract with the federal government to set up new flight paths for 28 Australian airports. The satellite based system called Required Performance Navigation allows extremely precise flying on predetermined paths logged into the aircraft’s computers.

The suburbs nearest the airport will always cop the noise as planes line up for final approach. The Labor held seats of Grayndler, Barton and Kingsford-Smith are closest to the airport and will cop the worst noise until the airport is moved out of Sydney. Aircraft noise is mainly a Labor problem, but Labor has failed to solve it.

There is plenty of precedent for political manipulation of flight paths. Labor aimed the third runway at the safe seat of Grayndler, taking it off the marginal seats of Barton and Phillip (since abolished in a redistribution). The Howard Liberal Government moved the take off flight paths away from Howard’s seat of Bennelong, sacrificing the seat of Lowe (now Reid) held by Liberal back bencher Zammit.

Airservices Australia first told the government’s Sydney Airport Community (politicians) Forum of the new system in Decenber last year. Until then, Airservices had avoided reporting on the 2007 conference of the International Civil Aviation Organisation which mandated the introduction of this technology.

Airservices had planned to introduce RPN into Sydney before the end of this year. Transport Minister Albanese said that consultation had begun with SACF and the system would not be introduced unless in assisted in fairer noise sharing.

New hope from new technology

A near city airport could use RPN technology to avoid towns and villages with flght paths weaving between inhabited areas. This is done at Munich which moved their airport out of the city in 1995. For 40 km before landing, planes follow a twisting path to avoid towns and villages in the German countryside.

The suburb of Kurnell, which stands alone on a peninsula across Botany Bay from the airport, could be avoided by aircraft using the new system. There is no possible flight path around suburbs north, east and west of the airport, the only way to avoid them is to move the airport out of the city.

Air Services tells residents not to complain too much

At the recent Senate Inquiry into noise sharing, Air Services bureaucrat Matt Wardell complained that some noise affected people were complaining too much.

Summer Hill resident Johann Heinrich has a noise meter connected to his computer. Monitoring the noise, Johann makes a list each day of planes which make too much noise and faxes the list to Air Services and Federal Ministers Anthony Albanese (Transport) and Peter Garrett (Environment). How can they deny that his complaints are reasonable when he has measured the noise?

Air Services complaint line is just a sink for complaints. The noise is above the limit on any measure, but we are expected to cop it sweet.

Federal elections comment

Only the Greens stand for ending Sydney’s aircraft noise nightmare. Labor and Liberal both approved massive expansion of Sydney Airport – they both ignore the rights of Sydney people to a safe, peaceful and healthy environment. To put either of the big parties ahead of the Greens when you vote is to say “that’s all right, I’ll be a willing victim”.

The Greens agree with No Aircraft Noise that the airport must be moved out of our city. They do not have a preferred site as we do with Wilton, but they have the correct principle – the airport is too big for the city and must be moved.

We know from their actions that the preferred airport site for Liberal and Labor is at Mascot. Labor offers the false hope of a second airport, while being careful not to promise that it would reduce noise in the city. A second airport would be used to move small panes out of Mascot, leaving us with the big jets and more noise than ever.

There is no hope at all from the Liberal Party which doesn’t even have a Sydney Airport policy on their website. They privatised Bankstown Airport as well as Sydney and their unstated policy is to use Bankstown to take the small regional aircraft out of Mascot.

But there is hope – Sydney Airport is unable to provide for all of our aviation needs and soon a decision must be made. The airport is inefficient and can only operate with a curfew. The land is needed for urban consolidation – new suburbs, new workplaces and new parks will be a much better use of scarce inner city land. A new airport outside the city will be efficient, operate 24 hours and be connected by fast train to the city.

The noisiest place in Australia is the electorate of Grayndler in the inner west. A safe seat is a dangerous place and as long as Grayndler is a safe Labor seat, Labor will think it’s safe to dump aircraft noise on us. The election in Grayndler is a two horse race - only Labor or Greens can win this seat. Labor has taken us for granted and approved the expansion of Sydney airport.

If you are voting in Grayndler, make sure you put Sam Byrne of the Greens ahead of Labor when you number all the squares on the ballot paper.

Greens push Very Fast Train

The Greens want a Very Fast Train to be built between Sydney and Melbourne which would transfer a lot of plane trips onto the rail. Sydney to Melbourne is the busiest air route in Australia and the fifth busiest in the world. Rail would reduce greenhouse gases generated by travellers between the two cities.

A VFT could link an out of Sydney airport to the city on the way to Canberra and Melbourne. This would make travel times to the new airport fast enough to easily replace the present airport.

Aviation apologists in fairy land

“Airlines argue privately that Sydney Airport’s cap of 80 movements an hour has passed its "use-by" date and that the night curfew is nonsense because the noise footprint of modern aircraft is contained within the airports perimeter,” Orient Aviation magazine writer Tom Ballantyne wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Noise monitoring shows that current generation aircraft are way too noisy for residential areas. The latest pin up aircraft of the low noise argument is the giant Airbus A380. Over Leichhardt the A380 is above 81dBA (decibels), when we need to be below 70 in the day and 60 at night to be acceptable under the Australian Standards. As far out as Hunters Hill the A380 is still above 74dBA.

The daily experience of thousands of Sydney people is that both new and old jets wake you up, disrupt your conversations, interfere with schooling and, as the Kurnell study showed, increase people’s blood pressure. 


March 2010 Volume 15, Issue 1

Aviation White Paper – ineffective minister postpones action
In December the Federal Government’s Aviation White Paper was released, exposing Labor’s lack of planning for our future.  A joint NSW and Federal Government “Task Force” will look at Sydney’s air traffic needs and report by the middle of 2011, further delaying any decision. 
Albanese has laboured for two years in office and only produced two reports and another committee.  By contrast the Hawke Government had examined 10 sites and produced EIS’s for a major second airport at Badgerys Creek or Wilton after two years in office. 
But Hawke later decided to build a third runway at Sydney Airport rather than build a second Sydney airport.  Over 13 years Labor bought up the land and announced 3 different airports for Badgerys Creek, but never turned the second sod.
The ministerial go slow on another airport allows the present Sydney Airport to expand to bursting point, especially as Albanese recently approved their 20 year Master Plan.  Albanese admitted that neither Sydney Airport nor Sydney residents could cope with the predicted increase in air traffic, noise and pollution.  So he agrees with NAN that the present airport cannot cope and that it is a major polluter, but he won’t take the next step to move it out of the city.
The White Paper says that future airport planning will prevent new housing on flight paths at new airports.  Albanese has not acted to prevent development approved by the NSW Government at Tralee on Canberra airport’s flight path.  In a monstrous hypocrisy, Australian noise standards are enforced on the community, but not on the aviation industry, which will continue to impose higher noise zones on existing residential populations. 
In his maiden speech Albanese said, “In the longer term, however, the solution must be to lower the number of aircraft movements over the inner west. It must not be forgotten that this area is the most densely populated in Australia.” (Hansard 1996)
Liberal Party policy is to put all flights through Sydney Airport for the next few decades.  In 2005, the Howard Government decided not to look for a second airport site.  The Greens want Sydney Airport moved outside the Sydney basin.
Pushing out the smaller aircraft as traffic keeps building
Sydney Airport cannot cope with the expanding air traffic and wants to move regional flights out of the peak hour and out of the airport altogether.  (See Sydney Airport’s submission to the Aviation White Paper)
Analysis of the numbers of jet and non-jet aircraft using Sydney Airport shows that smaller aircraft are being replaced by larger noisier jets.


  % of Jets % of Non-Jets
2005 68.65 31.35
2006 69.56 30.44
2007 70.12 29.88
2008 73.6 26.74
2009 75.10 24.90

This is happening together with the progressive up-scaling in aircraft size across the fleet and still the number of total aircraft movements increase.  Despite the changing ratio in aircraft size, total aircraft movements increased from 267,774 in 2004 to 282,524 in 2009.  This was a net increase of 14,750 or 2,950 per annum.  By extending the period to 2009 this eliminates any distortion from the record 2008 total aircraft movements of 296,181 which would have resulted in a net increase of 7,100 per annum over the 4 years from 2004 to 2008.
Bureaucrat mentions the elephant
Air Services Australia officer Richard Dudley said, “In my opinion, the northerly target will never be reached.”  Everyone in the government knows this, but until now nobody has dared to mention this elephant in the room.
By saying this, Dudley admitted that noise sharing at Sydney Airport will never be able to reduce flights over suburbs north of the airport to the level promised in the Long Term Operating Plan (LTOP).  The Long Term Operating Plan, introduced by the Howard Government and continued by the Rudd Government, promised to reduce flights north of the airport to 17% of the total airport movements.
Dudley told the Sydney Airport “Community” Forum (SACF) meeting that the target had never been reached once for any month since the plan began in the late 1990’s.  They had once been within 5% of the target, but that was a month with unusual weather patterns.
The average of flights north of the airport is usually about 30% and includes take offs and landings by the biggest and noisiest international jets.  This is an admission that noise sharing has not worked and things will only get worse for the Inner West and Lower North Shore as air traffic continues to increase.  Whenever there are more than 45 flights an hour, the East West Runway cannot be used and the two North South runways take all the flights.
Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has given the Sydney Airport Community Forum the task of providing him with advice on the abatement of aircraft noise at Sydney Airport and in particular is the main body for consultation on LTOP.
Now that the department responsible for air traffic control admits that LTOP will never achieve its main aim, Albanese must get moving on a new airport to replace the present nightmare. 
Go slow eases back a little
In February, Bureaucrat Maureen Ellis told the SACF meeting that the joint Federal - NSW Planning Task Force doesn’t necessarily “jump to a second airport” for Sydney.  Ms Ellis is the head of the Aviation Environment Policy Section in the Federal Department of Infrastructure.  Until now, everyone had assumed that the joint committee would find a site for a second Sydney airport. 
Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese announced in December that he had established “a joint planning taskforce which will identify strategies and locations to meet the additional aviation capacity which the Sydney region needs.” ABC Radio, 16 December 2009.

Eight lane motorway leads to Sydney Airport car parks

The NSW Government’s plan to double the tunnels on the M5 motorway will create an 8 lane car park leading to Sydney Airport’s parking stations. They want to waste $4.5 billion on a plan that will create greater congestion in the inner city and divert money from fixing the overloaded city rail and freight rail networks.

The Southern Cross drive cannot take any more traffic from the M5 and the local roads around St Peters cannot cope with the extra traffic from the proposed new arterial road connected to the M5.

Sydney Airport will welcome the extra traffic to their parking stations, the airport’s main source of revenue. They have built one 12 storey car park at the International Terminal and gained approval from the former Howard Government to build another one.

In addition to the air pollution from the large jets at Mascot, increasing car traffic will worsen our air quality. The Carr/Iemma/Rees/Keneally State Labor government has built lots of motorways, but has failed to solve Sydney’s growing transport crisis.



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