Airport expansion EIS released for public comment
  • Monday 29 September 2014
Airport runway - artist's impression

A major milestone in the approach to driving a stronger, more resilient economy for the Sunshine Coast has been reached today with the release by the Coordinator-General of the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public comment.

“The proposed expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport is a game-changer project for the region which would deliver thousands of jobs, significant increases in visitor numbers, improved access to domestic and international markets and economic prosperity to the region for decades to come,” Mayor Mark Jamieson said.

The EIS, which has been undertaken by a range of specialist technical teams, examines the economic, environmental and social aspects of the proposed airport expansion project with the outcomes contained in a four-volume document.

The EIS will be available to the community for comment during a 30-business day period ending on Thursday, November 13, 2014.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the proposed $347 million airport expansion would unlock opportunities for the community through greater connectivity, improved amenity and employment opportunities, while business and industry would benefit through the potential to attract more people to the coast and enhancement of the freight network.

“The EIS indicates the project will contribute around $4.1 billion to the gross regional product between 2020 and 2040, will generate around 2230 new full-time direct and indirect jobs by 2040,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“It has the potential to attract an additional two million passengers annually to the coast over that time-frame, with the significant flow-on benefits this delivers to local area businesses and tourist facilities.”

The major component of the airport expansion project involves a new, longer (2450 metres) and wider (45 metres) runway that would meet international civil aviation standards and accommodate aircraft designed to reach destinations around Australia, into the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

The project also encompasses the expansion of the existing passenger aircraft apron, the staged expansion of the terminal in its current location, taxiway loops and navigation aids, as well as a new air traffic control tower and fire-fighting station.

Commenting on the EIS, Mayor Jamieson said as a result of the location and design of the project and the implementation of effective mitigation strategies to manage identified impacts, there were few residual effects.

“From an operational perspective, the existing runway is constrained in length and width and only continues to operate for passenger jets as a result of an exemption from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority,” he said.

“This could be revoked in the future, reducing Sunshine Coast Airport to little more than a small sub-regional facility unable to cater for the modern jets used by Australian and international airlines.”

Mayor Jamieson said from a community perspective, the project would deliver benefits right across the Sunshine Coast.

“Currently there are around 4428 dwellings experiencing five or more aircraft noise events above 70 decibels each day,” he said.

“In 2020, with the new runway and its proposed alignment, some 3500 fewer dwellings will experience these events.

“Beyond the near-airport area, many suburbs across the coast will notice the absence of aircraft because the new runway orientation means that aircraft will no longer fly over the most densely settled parts of the coast.”

Details of the anticipated noise impacts are included in the EIS and in a supporting ‘Aircraft Noise Information’ booklet that is available to the community during the public comment period.

An online ‘Aircraft Noise’ tool has also been developed, allowing people to explore expected noise effects for specific properties.

The Mayor said the analysis of the environmental impacts of the project were another key component of the EIS.

“Through the runway design review process, the majority of impacts have been mitigated. Where disturbance to flora was unavoidable, a range of offset strategies has been proposed to reduce the risk to those species,” he said.

Mayor Jamieson said a community of between 14 and 16 ground parrots is resident at the airport, largely attracted by the airport’s land management practices and the protection afforded the species by the perimeter fence.

“While an area of ground parrot habitat will be affected by the new runway, we have proposed mitigation measures, including the allocation of a new on-airport area to be managed for the species which will help in preservation efforts,” he said.

Major Projects portfolio councillor Tim Dwyer said the runway could be operational by 2020, subject to approvals and securing of the financing arrangements.

“The EIS is one of the most detailed investigations ever undertaken by council and we invite the community to review the study and its supporting documents and have their say on this significant project for the Sunshine Coast,” Cr Dwyer said.

Comments must be directed to the Queensland Government’s Office of the Coordinator-General, which alongside the Australian Government, will undertake their assessment after completion of the public comment period.

“This is a key opportunity for the Sunshine Coast and part of ensuring we have a strong and prosperous future,” Cr Dwyer said.

Where to see the EIS and supporting documents:

Online through the Queensland Government’s Office of the Coordinator-General: www.haveyoursay.dsdip.qld.gov.au/coordinatorgeneral/SCAexpansion or the Commonwealth Dept of Environment website

Sunshine Coast Council customer service areas at:

1 Omrah Avenue, Caloundra

10 First Avenue, Maroochydore

Cnr Currie and Bury Streets, Nambour

All Sunshine Coast libraries

Noosa Shire Council, 9 Pelican Street, Tewantin

Noosa Libraries

Bribie Island Library

State Library of Queensland

National Library of Australia

Any submissions must be made via the Office of the Coordinator-General through the online portal or via post or email, details of which are located on the Office’s website.

The Aircraft Noise Information booklet, Summary of Major Findings, online Aircraft Noise Information tool and supporting fact sheets are available at www.sunshinecoastairport.com.au. All information, except the online Aircraft Noise Information tool, is also available at www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au

DVDs containing the full EIS and all supporting information are available for free by email to info@SCAexpansion.com.au

Queries can be directed to 1800 210 755.