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New airport 'a game changer and absolute no brainer' for economic growth

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Badgerys Creek airport gets go-ahead

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces that Sydney's second airport will be built in Badgerys Creek in western Sydney.

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A second airport has been hailed by urban planning experts as a ''game changer'' for Sydney's attempt to manage and direct economic growth over the next two decades.

But the announcement will also drive the O'Farrell government back to the drawing board to rewrite long-awaited plans to provide jobs and housing for more than 1.3 million people.

The draft Metropolitan Strategy predicts 625,000 new jobs will be needed by 2031, half of them to be created in western Sydney.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott with National Party leader Warren Truss announcing the second airport at a press conference in Canberra yesterday.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott with National Party leader Warren Truss announcing the second airport at a press conference in Canberra yesterday. Photo: Andrew Meares

The document, which was due be finalised late last year, includes no mention of a second airport.

But the University of Western Sydney's Australian Urban Research Centre director Michael Darcy said an airport was the ''missing piece of the jigsaw'' needed to realise its ambitious targets.

An airport had the potential to reshape Sydney away from the coastline to create a new focus for growth with knock-on benefits across the city, he said.

''It's a game changer, but it's an absolute no brainer,'' Professor Darcy said. ''If it wasn't this, it would have to be something else.''

He said the Badgerys Creek decision would be an immediate driver for investment in the Western Sydney Employment Area - a 10,000 hectare site largely comprised of rural land that has been earmarked for future commercial and industrial development.

The separate structure plans for the employment precinct set out to ''avoid incompatible development in the vicinity of a potential second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek''.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who announced on Tuesday that Badgerys Creek would be ''infrastructure first, airport second'' praised the government's planning around the future airport.

''It has basically created an industrial and commercial zone around the site,'' Mr Abbott said.

Premier Barry O'Farrell said he would announce more about the infrastructure package surrounding the airport on Wednesday.

''My focus has always been on the fact that an airport in western Sydney would require the supporting infrastructure, and how that infrastructure would be funded,'' he said.

Sydney Business Chamber western Sydney director David Borger said the airport was the necessary driver for the state government's plans.

''The idea of a vast area of now predominantly rural becoming a jobs-rich centre 20 times the size of north Ryde without an airport was farcical,'' he said.

Mr Borger said that the housing and employment targets for western Sydney would need to be rewritten in light of Tuesday's long-anticipated announcement. ''I think that the jobs targets for western Sydney are going to change, dramatically,'' he said.

Stephen Albin, the chief executive of developer lobby Urban Development Institute of Australia, said the long-anticipated airport had ''held a lot of other things up''.

''After decades of inaction, the state and federal governments need to get on with the job of delivering infrastructure in preparation for the airport as soon as possible,'' he said.

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