Nov 21, 2008

Minister refuses to approve Canberra Airport Master Plan

Minister refuses to approve Canberra Airport Master Plan


The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

November 21 2008

Today I am announcing my decision to not approve Canberra Airport’s 2008 draft master plan.

Canberra Airport’s 2008 draft master plan does not provide the necessary detail to meet the statutory purposes of a master plan and enable well informed public consideration of the proposed 20 year plan for the Airport.

Canberra Airport has been on notice since February 2005 when the previous government identified similar deficiencies in detail that should be addressed in subsequent master plans.

Canberra Airport’s 2008 draft master plan did not provide an adequate level of detail in relation to land use planning and does not clearly establish the strategic direction for the economic and efficient use of the airport

The 2008 draft master plan does not have enough detail to allow the public or myself to reasonably determine to what extent there are potential conflicts relating to the land use on the airport or the surrounding areas.

Examples of insufficient information in the 2008 draft master plan include:

  • The draft master plan proposes a freight hub and states “significant night freight operations will commence in the short term”, but the draft master plan does not indicate the potential location of the freight hub, the type of freight envisaged, the buildings and other infrastructure required to operate it, possible traffic management arrangements or the volume of freight that may be processed;
  • There are minimal maps and diagrams to outline the use of the airport land, to show the delineation of aeronautical and other development areas, environmentally significant areas or details of the connections with the surrounding roads; and
  • There is minimal information about how airport and surrounding infrastructure and services will support the airport’s projected growth, with very limited information about terminal redevelopment or other aeronautical developments needed to support that projected growth.
  • The key land use map for the airport in the 2008 draft master plan is an undated aerial photograph that does not show the airport’s intentions for future development including detail such as the approved terminal expansion.
  • There is not sufficient information relating to specific precincts such as land use zones, commercial development land uses and no detail about current and future road works to support airport growth, including works already underway.

Matters raised during public consultation have not been adequately addressed by Canberra Airport.

Many members of the community raised concerns about the proposal for a freight hub, for example, and the airport’s response has not adequately addressed the substance of their concerns. The public should be advised of the potential truck, plane and machinery noise they might face if the freight hub proposal develops as significantly and rapidly as suggested in the 2008 draft master plan.

The public have a right to know how this development could impact on their homes, and the airport’s response to these concerns has been inadequate.

I strongly support well-planned investment at leased federal airports which is underpinned by comprehensive and informed community input. Both investors and the community require certainty. Master plans are critical in this process by providing key information about the airports and how they will develop in for the future.

I have written to Canberra Airport informing them of the reasons for my decision and have given them 180 days to prepare a new draft master plan and submit it to me for consideration. The existing 2005 master plan remains in force until I approve a new master plan.

I am confident these matters can be worked through with Canberra Airport to ensure the draft master plan is revised appropriately and the public is provided a further opportunity to comment on the future directions of this critical facility that serves the Canberra region well.

Like other Federal leased airports, Canberra Airport is required to submit a master plan in accordance with the Airports Act 1996. The master plan is a key document that gives the aviation industry and other businesses certainty to plan and invest for the long term and gives clarity to travellers, airport users and the community affected by aviation activity.