Lee questions the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Executive Director of the Western Sydney Unit on the environmental impact of the proposed Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek. Lee probes whether the department undertook to model the relative benefits of other modes of transport like high-speed rail compared to a second airport in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Senator RHIANNON: Going back to Badgerys Creek airport, the Western Sydney airport: the EIS did not count scope 3 emissions-the take-off jet exhausts-in its calculations of total emissions. Why weren't they included?
Mr McRandle: Sorry, I missed the first part of your question.
Senator RHIANNON: It is about the scope 3 emissions-that the airport EIS did not count scope 3 emissions in its calculations of total emissions. I wondered why they were not included.
Mr McRandle: I am not familiar with the term 'scope 3 emissions', or the detail of that. There was an assessment of emissions required by the EPBC Act in the assessment.
Senator RHIANNON: Yes, but not of the take-off jet exhausts, I understand. That is what we are talking about here. This comes from the EIS itself, on page 101:
The Scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions estimated for the proposed stage 1 development would represent approximately 0.1 per cent of Australia's projected 2030 transport-related greenhouse gas emission inventory.
What I am trying to work out here is why scope 3 was not included in the calculations. You have said that it was. I thought that somebody would know about this, because it has been written about and reported on.
Mr McRandle: No. Sorry, I understand now the issue you are getting to. There was a typographical error in, I think, the online publication versus the printed one-
Senator RHIANNON: And the hard copy.
Mr McRandle: and that was corrected. I can go to my notes to find-
Senator RHIANNON: The last time I looked at it, and I must admit it was not this week, it had not been corrected online. I can understand that you cannot correct hard copy, but have you corrected the online version and, if so, where?
Mr McRandle: I need to take on notice the details of the correction, but I can inform you that we were alerted to a typographical error in one of the publications which did not invalidate the public consultation process, or that part of it. I would need to get back to you on the detail about how that was detected and how that was-
Senator RHIANNON: The figure of 0.1 per cent really comes across as greenhouse gas emissions are really not significant in terms of this airport. You can understand why it would be interpreted that way, and it has been used extensively throughout the draft EIS and certainly in many discussions about it. Is there nobody here who can give us any dates on when this was corrected?
Mr McRandle: I would need to take that on notice unless I can find that particular reference in my notes. I think that, in the context of greenhouse emissions in this airport, aviation itself is only a small proportion of the greenhouse emitters in the transport sector. This airport is not going to be the busiest airport in Australia and, therefore, I think you would expect to have a very small number.
Senator RHIANNON: When you made the correction, you included scope 3 with scope 1 and scope 2. What do you now say the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions is?
Mr McRandle: I would need to go and check the details of exactly what the error was and just remind myself of how that was corrected.
Senator RHIANNON: It is certainly disappointing that this information is not here. When you take that on notice and you provide that information, can you say when the correction was made and what the new figure is in terms of the total percentage of greenhouse gas emissions for scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 and for scope 3 separately.
Mr McRandle: Yes, we will do that.
Senator RHIANNON: With regard to greenhouse gas emissions and decisions around transport in Western Sydney and beyond: has the department been asked to model the relative benefits of other modes of transport like high-speed rail compared to a second airport in terms of greenhouse gas emissions?
Mr Mrdak: We have done no recent work. The most comparative work would have been the high-speed rail study of 2012, which had projections of impacts, particularly of an intercapital high-speed rail network. We are currently doing work with the New South Wales government in relation to future alignment of rail for Western Sydney, but that is looking more at future corridors and timing of construction of rail. Again, we will check the EIS process. I am not familiar with any direct comparator between the Western Sydney airport development and an intercapital high-speed rail, but there is a lot of information on high-speed rail emissions available in that 2012 work.
Mr McRandle: There was no reference to high-speed rail in the EIS, but high-speed rail is not a perfect substitute for aviation services-things like international, where the growth is quite strong. There has not been a specific comparison of greenhouse gas emissions between the two modes.
Senator RHIANNON: Has the government contributed any resources or given any consideration to developing increased capacity at Newcastle airport?
Mr Mrdak: Yes. The joint study, which was undertaken between 2010 and 2012, essentially looked at all of the aviation infrastructure and future demand in an area from Newcastle all the way down to Nowra. The future capacity of RAAF Williamtown was included in all of those studies, so there is quite extensive work. If you go to the joint study report, which is on our website, that provides quite a detailed assessment of RAAF Williamtown and its capacity for civil operations.
Senator RHIANNON: So consideration was given. Have any resources been put into Newcastle airport?
Mr Mrdak: Extensive resources were at that time for that joint study, which looked at all aspects of RAAF
and civil operations. Essentially RAAF Williamtown has significant limitations for future civil operations.
Senator RHIANNON: It has limitations?
Mr Mrdak: Yes, it does.
Senator RHIANNON: What are they?
Mr Mrdak: Primarily, it will remain Australia's primary RAAF fighter base-
Senator RHIANNON: So it is because of the RAAF operations?
Mr Mrdak: RAAF operations and military airspace. RAAF Williamtown is part of RAAF's long-term plans. Additionally, the infrastructure in the area and the proximity of the local communities mean that it is very difficult to expand the base. It is a very small site, which means that it does not cater for long-term demand.
Senator RHIANNON: What about Canberra airport? What resources have you put into Canberra airport?
Mr Mrdak: Similarly, it was considered as part of the joint study in 2010 to 2012. Again, it looked at future capacity. Canberra is certainly part of the region. It services the south-eastern region of New South Wales. It is quite an important airport for this region and southern New South Wales. But it does not serve the major needs of Sydney, particularly Western Sydney, in the same way that the Western Sydney airport will.
Senator RHIANNON: To finish up with the Gold Coast airport: I understand there is a minister's approval document for Gold Coast airport's ILS draft master development plan. Can you take this on notice and release this document to the committee.
Mr Mrdak: Yes, certainly. It will be published shortly. As one of the conditions of any major development plan approval, the airport publishes the major development plan and the final approval.
Senator RHIANNON: When you say shortly, what is 'shortly'?
Mr Wilson: It will be published within 50 business days of the approval. I believe the approval was last week-so, early April.
Senator RHIANNON: We are expecting it in early April.
Mr Mrdak: At the latest.
Senator RHIANNON: So about six weeks away?
Mr Mrdak: At the latest.
Senator RHIANNON: So, in that six weeks work can commence on the changes around the airport? I understand that is possible. Is it?
Mr Mrdak: The major development plan has been approved, yes.
Senator RHIANNON: Can you take it on notice and release this immediately-as I think you are aware, there are local disputes about this-so that the public at least have some knowledge about what they are confronting.
Mr Mrdak: The public was extensively consulted on the draft major development plan, which was then provided to government and which included a response to the public consultation. But I will take on notice the availability of the final MDP earlier.
Senator RHIANNON: So you will give consideration to releasing it-not using the process to expand the time, but to look at releasing it immediately?
Mr Mrdak: That will be a matter for the airport, but we will see what can be done.