By CATHY McQUEEN
Torch Newspaper 03/07/2002
THE risk of flooding in areas immediately surrounding Bankstown Airport might have increased because of a large amount of landfill deposited on the airport site in recent years, according to two Bankstown councilors.
The issue was raised at Bankstown City Council’s meeting last week by Cr Keven Hill, as business arising from council’s decision to renege on the land swap agreement previously in place at Bankstown Airport.
Airport general manager Kim Ellis confirmed that the airport has been using landfill to “increase the airport’s commercial value”.
He said all the airport’s landfill work had been approved by the Federal Government environmental authorities. He added that he didn’t believe the landfill would contribute to an increased flood risk in suburbs near the airport.
If a problem did emerge, Mr Ellis said the airport would be more than willing to work with Bankstown Council to find a solution.
But Cr Hill said he was concerned that the landfill on the airport could add to the flooding problem in the Georges River region.
“From what I understand, a lot of the fill from the M5 tunnel was dumped on the airport.” Cr Hill said.
“There is a hell of a lot of fill down there and when you start to fill land it means that water can’t go there anymore which in turn means that surrounding areas could now be affected by flooding.” he said.
“It could raise the level of a flood right across the flood zone of the Georges River region. Its real effect could be that it brings more properties into the flood zone.”
Another councilor, who said did not want his name mentioned, supported Cr Hill’s concerns.
After the meeting, the councillor said that he believed that landfill works carried out at the airport in recent years could impact adversely on the flood level of nearby suburbs, should the Georges River be hit by a flood again.
“It might only make a few centimetres difference to water levels but that might mean the difference between water stopping at your front stop or running under your front door,” the councillor said.
He said that by raising the level of the airport’s land, it had the subsequent effect of lowering the level of surrounding land, making it more prone to flooding.
“My concern is the one in one hundred year flood,” the councillor said.
“And it’s not a matter of if it will happen but when.”
Cr Hill said his concern was that Bankstown City Council was in the dark about the possible impact of landfill work at the airport on the area’s flood potential.
“Any other landfill work that is carried out in this area has to come before council because of its potential to impact on flood levels but because it is federally run they (Bankstown Airport) do not have to provide us with that information,” Cr Hill said. He said repeated requests to gain access to the relevant documents had failed.
“My big concern is that the Federal Government won’t release that information and the fact that they won’t release it makes me think that there might be something wrong,” Cr Hill said.
But Mr Ellis said the airport’s reluctance to release the findings of their flood studies was because the studies were completed as part of a broader commercial report.
“We were a little concerned about releasing the reports because they contained (sensitive) commercial information which might have been discussed in an open meeting of council,” he said.
Mr Ellis said the airport had employed two separate environmental consultants to undertake flood studies.
At a meeting with councillors last week, Mr Ellis said he had agreed to allow council officers access to those reports and also to organise a forum in which the airport’s consultants and council’s officers could discuss the flooding issue.