The federal government will size up Wilton for Sydney's second airport, despite opposition from NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to any such airport within the Sydney basin.
Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says the government will begin a "detailed investigation into the suitability of Wilton", located on the outer south-western fringe of Sydney, with preliminary economic, social and environmental studies into the site's viability for an international airport to relieve pressure from Mascot's Kingsford-Smith airport.
"The government is committed to increasing Sydney's aviation capacity in a bipartisan and consultative manner," Mr Albanese said in a statement today, warning that "the economic cost of doing nothing is substantial."
According to the statement, the federal government will:
- Make sure that the Sydney Airport Corporation Limited develops a strategy to invest in terminal, apron, taxiway and other improvements to operate Sydney Airport to maximum efficiency
- Work with the NSW Government to develop a long-term plan to meet projected demand on the road and rail networks servicing Sydney Airport; and
- Assess the scope and consequences of utilising RAAF Base Richmond for limited civil operations, including consideration of social, economic and environmental impacts.
Albanese has also flagged his intent to push on by citing a "first right of refusal clause in the Sydney Airport Share Sale Act'.
This affords the Sydney Airport Corporation – owners of the privatised Sydney airport – with the options to either develop the second Sydney Airport itself or allow another competing body to do so.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has consistently and controversially rejected calls for a second Sydney airport, in preference to an expanded role for Canberra Airport with a high-speed rail link running between Sydney and Canberra.