Sydney Airport given more time for grand plan
The federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, has given ground on his demands that Sydney Airport hand over details of its long-term plans a year earlier than scheduled.
After a battle in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the minister and the airport have reached agreement that the master plan be submitted only six months early – on December 2.
Last year Mr Albanese had sought to force Sydney Airport to place on his desk the 20-year plan by July 1, which prompted the airport to launch legal action.
Sydney Airport’s chief executive, Kerrie Mather, said she was pleased Mr Albanese had agreed to extend the revised deadline for the next 20-year master plan to December.
“Sydney Airport generates and facilitates $27.6 billion a year in economic activity ... and it’s important to get long-term planning for Australia’s gateway airport right,’’ she said in a statement.
“A master plan is a 20-year land-use plan for the terminals and airfield, which also includes a ground transport report. We’ll use the additional time to consult broadly and extensively, focusing particularly on improving transport links to the airport.’’
The airport will release a preliminary draft plan for public consultation in the middle of the year.
Mr Albanese proposed to the airport that December 2 be the date for the delivery of the master plan. The tribunal has since formalised the agreement.
The minister said in a statement that the submission of the plan in December would ‘‘ensure proper process including community consultation takes place’’.
At hearings at the tribunal in Sydney before Christmas, the government’s lawyers had argued that the airport was keeping the public in the dark about its long-term plans for a $1 billion-plus makeover aimed at easing peak-hour capacity constraints.
But the airport’s barristers countered that Mr Albanese’s demands to bring forward the master plan could result in it being rejected because it did not have enough time to adequately consult community groups, airlines and councils.
While it battled the minister in the tribunal, the airport had been working towards completing its first version of the plan by the end of January, in the event that it was unsuccessful in its appeal.
The airport’s present master plan was approved in 2009.