Oct 31, 2008

Master plan approved for Essendon Airport

Master plan approved for Essendon Airport

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

October 31 2008

Today I approved the Master Plan for Essendon Airport Pty Ltd and asked airport management to establish a Working Group to examine and report on the impact of aircraft movements and how aircraft noise can be better managed.

The Master Plan sets out the strategic direction and intended uses for the next 20 years, and I have advised Essendon Airport management that the Government has no current plans to close the airport or relax the curfew.

Essendon Airport Pty Ltd has a 50 year lease, with an additional 49 year option, to operate the airport.

Essendon Airport is important for general aviation and supports valuable emergency services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Air Ambulance Victoria and the Victoria Police Air Wing. The airport is also an important access point for many rural and regional travellers.

I acknowledge the ongoing community concern regarding noise and other impacts caused by aircraft operations, and I have requested Essendon Airport management to work with Airservices Australia, my department and local Federal Members of Parliament Kelvin Thomson and Bill Shorten to find practical ways to reduce these impacts with targeted strategies.

I have tasked the Working Group to find practical ways to reduce the noise and other impacts with targeted strategies, and to report to me by April 2009 on:

  •  Ways to better manage and monitor the aviation noise impacts at Essendon Airport;
  • The most effective options to reduce the noise impact on nearby residents, while maintaining the viability of Essendon Airport, including:
    • analysing the current aircraft mix, which aircraft generate noise of most concern to nearby residents and exploring whether the mix might be altered to reduce the community impact;
    • analysing whether runway usage might be altered to reduce noise impacts;
    • better management of Fly Neighbourly flight paths and noise abatement zones;
    • identifying specific noise buffer zones and techniques to better shield local residences from airport operations; and
    • the establishment of an airport operated community consultation committee for ongoing dialogue on airport issues, including on-airport developments and noise management.

The Working Group will provide analysis on the impact of each option on the community, the operations of the airport, airport users and the wider transport/freight network.

Key features of the Master Plan include:

  • Aviation activity levels are not predicted to increase in the coming years;
  • Upgrading the existing terminal building to reinstate its original purpose and significant heritage value;
  • New hangars, including those designated to accommodate the Victorian Police Airwing and Air Ambulance Services;
  • Aprons, hangars and ancillary support areas including offices, amenity areas and maintenance facilities;
  • Progressive improvement to the appearance of the airport, including landscaping and upgrade of buildings;
  • Support for the introduction of an Orbital Bus service, scheduled to commence in January 2009, which will connect the Bulla Precinct with the Essendon Rail Station;
  • Low-level office buildings within a landscaped setting complete with off-street car parking; and
  • A range of additional commercial activities may be permitted so long as they do not limit or affect aviation activity.

The Airports Act 1996 requires each operator of a leased Federal airport to submit a draft Master Plan for the Minister’s approval. Master Plans are subject to a thorough public consultation process and must take into account issues raised during the comment period.

Separate major development plans must be prepared if the airport wishes to undertake major development work.

Essendon Airport Pty Ltd is now required to publish the final Master Plan within 90 days of approval and make copies of the plan available to the public.