Airport land swap fuels runway fears
By ROBERT WINWRIGHT – Transport Writer
The Sydney Morning Herald – 23/04/1999
Authorities at Bankstown airport want to use land at its southern end to build a road and commercial developments such as fast food outlets and “motel type “accommodation.
However, residents fear the extra 2,300 square metres of land, being traded for 5,000 square metres at another site to allow the council to expand its basketball stadium, will also allow the runway to be extended to take larger planes.
Last month it was revealed that aviation officials were planning to shift some regional airline services to Bankstown suring peak periods of the Olympic Games next year.
A draft operating plan for Bankstown, Camden and Hoxton Park airports said there were plans to set up customs, immigration and quarantine facilities at Bankstown for International aircraft such as VIP, corporate jets.
Residents groups say they are being frustrated in their attempts to get access to the government reports on Bankstown airport’s future including a study allegedly done for the former Federal Airports Corporation which concluded that, with a $5 million extension to the present runway, Bankstown could take interstate and interstate jets to relieve Sydney of up to 40,000 aircraft movements a year.
Airport officials who confirmed yesterday that Bankstown Airport Ltd was exempt from freedom of information applications even though the airport was publicly owned, said there was no such document.
They also said there were no plans to extend the runway, even thought the council has invited them “to give explanations on plans or proposals to lengthen the runways and for new enlarged terminals”.
The convener of the Bankstown Airport Community and Environment Forum, Ms Sonya McKay, said “It is just another case of airport expansion closeted in a total disregard for genuine community concern.
“Less than a week before it was first brought to the council, the airport, management was discussing proposals to extend the runway and build a new enlarged terminal. The council actually passed a resolution inviting the airport to discuss its proposals.
“If this land exchange goes ahead it will only exacerbate the major concerns regarding airport expansion and lead the way to further airport development,
A spokesman for the airport, Mr Brian Carson described the land swap as positive for the community.
“The slip road at the south west extreme of the airport is going to give access to a fast food area and an aviation museum which will put Bankstown on the map. We also have had an expression of interest from a motel operator.”
Asked why management had raised lengthening the runway and terminal expansion at a public meeting last year, Mr Curson said: “I don’t believe that has occurred. We have no plans for runway extensions or terminal enlargement.”
Anti aircraft noise groups have demanded that the Federal Government abandon plans to build an airport at Badgerys Creek. A meeting of a 30 group alliance, including groups from the eastern suburbs, the North Shore, Bankstown and western Sydney, called for a renewed search for a site outside the Sydney area.