THE township of Wilton, 27 kilometres south-west of Campbelltown, has emerged as a possible second airport site for Sydney, provided the state and federal governments reverse decades of inaction and disagreement on the issue.
The federal Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese, yesterday released the report of a two-year-long study into Sydney's aviation needs. But Mr Albanese immediately rejected two of the study's main recommendations, and the state government dismissed the whole idea of a second airport anywhere near Sydney.
The study said Badgerys Creek, acquired by the federal government between 1986 and 1991, was the clear best location for a second airport site. But Mr Albanese ruled out Badgerys Creek and instead said he would investigate Wilton, the report's second-best option.
The NSW Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, re-iterated the state's opposition to another airport in the Sydney basin and said high-speed rail needed to be part of the solution.
The 3200-page report released by Mr Albanese yesterday documented the pressing capacity constraints on Sydney Airport. Within a year, the report said, there would be no extra slots available for flights from regional NSW to land at Sydney.
By 2020, there would be no peak hour slots available for any extra flights to land in the morning and afternoon. And by 2027, the report said, there will be no room for any extra flights at any time of the day.
This would cost the national economy $60 billion by 2060, the report said. And it would lead to flight delays across the country. ''The costs of doing nothing are enormous,'' Mr Albanese said.
The study, which looked at 34 potential airport site, showed that construction costs at Badgerys Creek would be marginally cheaper than at Wilton.
Building a single-runway airport that could only accommodate domestic flights would cost about $1.7 billion at either site, or $2 billion to $4 billion when transport links were included.
Building a parallel-runway airport that could accommodate international flights would cost about $5.3 billion to construct, but between $7 billion and $11 billion if the supporting infrastructure was included.
But the main advantage of Badgerys Creek was that it was closer to Sydney. The study found an airport at Wilton would become commercially viable only by 2030, unless there was rapid development to the south-west of Campbelltown.
Mr Albanese said the refusal to consider Badgerys Creek was ''a commitment that we gave at the last two elections and we believe that's appropriate''.
The report said the existing RAAF base at Richmond was of little use as an expansion airport. And it ruled out the option of expanding Canberra Airport and linking it by fast rail to Sydney.
The other recommendation Mr Albanese rejected was to lift the hourly cap in flight movements at from 80 to 85. Instead, he will write to the owners of Sydney Airport, who have first refusal on building a second site.
The NSW government rejected Mr Albanese's offer to release the study together. Ms Berejiklian said it had been ''very clear that we do not support another airport in the Sydney Basin''.
As reported in the Herald yesterday, the predicted growth in flights at the current airport means the ability to share noise using the airport's east-west runway will soon be exhausted.