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Contact: Paul Merner (02) 6274 7086, Email: Paul.Merner@infrastructure.gov.au



  1. Policy advice, second Sydney airport
  2. Policy advice and regulation, aviation security - transferred to Output Class 1-Aviation
  3. Policy advice, aviation environment strategies
  4. Program administration, Sydney Airport Noise Amelioration
  5. Policy advice and regulation, Federal Airports - transferred from Output Class 1-Aviation
  6. Policy advice, Portfolio aviation authorities - part-transfer from Output Class 1-Aviation

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Aviation Policy and Aviation Operations Divisions were restructured in July 1998. Their output is reported here as Output Class 1-Aviation and Output Class 2-Airports. Outputs and Planned Performance Information were also reallocated, Airports gaining responsibility for Output 1.3 and part-Output 1.4, and Aviation responsibility for Output 2.2.

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During the year the Department completed a detailed analysis of Sydney's future airport needs. The main emphasis was on completing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the proposed second major airport for Sydney at Badgerys Creek. The EIS Supplement was released publicly in June 1999.

In conjunction with the EIS process, work was undertaken with the Department of the Treasury on the financial viability of the second Sydney airport proposal, and the results incorporated in the Supplement.

The Department continued to direct efforts to address community sensitivity to aircraft noise at Sydney and other major and general aviation airports in Australia. Significant resources were devoted to help the Government achieve its policy of a more equitable sharing of noise at Sydney Airport, and in developing measures to reduce the adverse environmental impact of aircraft operations at other airports.

The Department has initiated new approaches to describing and assessing aircraft noise in response to limitations in the Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) system. These approaches, which describe aircraft noise in ways which people can relate to, have been used as the basis for providing information to communities living around Sydney Airport, and also form a large part of the aircraft noise components of the EIS for the second Sydney airport. The approaches are now being trialed at other major Australian airports in response to requests from community representatives for aircraft noise information which goes beyond that given by the ANEF system.

Airports Division closely monitored the operation and effectiveness of the standards set by the regulatory regime now in place at leased federal airports. Regulations and guidance material have been reviewed and amended as necessary to ensure that the regime is effective and meets Commonwealth Government goals.

During 1998-99 four leased federal airports had their master plans and environment strategies approved by the Minister - Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Moorabbin.

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Ministerials, Briefings, Parliamentary Questions

Airports Division prepared 801 ministerial replies to letters. Ninety-six Minutes were sent to the Minister, and answers to 78 House of Representatives and 31 Senate Questions on Notice prepared.

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During the year the main emphasis was on completing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the proposed second major airport for Sydney at Badgerys Creek. The principal task was to prepare a Supplement to the Draft EIS in response to public submissions and auditor's comments on the draft released in December 1997. The process involved a combination of in-house analysis and the design and management of a range of specialist consultancies on airport design and environmental and economic assessment. The Supplement was released publicly on 30 June 1999.

Results of work undertaken with the Department of the Treasury on the financial viability of the second Sydney airport proposal were incorporated in the Supplement.

The Department is responsible also for the management of properties acquired in relation to the Badgerys Creek site. A lease agreement was negotiated in November 1998 with the Sydney Airports Corporation Limited (SACL) to manage the airport site on behalf of the Commonwealth, and the acquisition of two properties at Badgerys Creek settled during the year.

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Following the successful completion of Phase 2 of the airport sale program in July 1998, it was decided to consolidate all aviation-related environment functions and responsibilities within Airports Division.

During the year the Department has undertaken several initiatives to seek improved environmental outcomes, including working with new owners of leased airports to review and restructure community consultative committees to provide better forums for communication among airports, airlines and the community. The Department participates in many of these committees, providing advice and technical assistance to airports and the community.

To address community concern about alleged incidents of fuel release over Sydney the Department developed the Air Navigation (Fuel Spillage) Regulations 1999, which make it an offence to release fuel in flight without strict permission.

The Department advised the Minister in relation to a Ministerial Direction to Airservices Australia that provides the basis for proactive management and resolution of noise issues arising from aircraft operations at major airports. It also had significant involvement in the development of a 'Fly Neighbourly Agreement' at Caloundra Airport.

The Department administers the Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations, which are instrumental in ensuring that jet and non-jet aircraft seeking approval to operate in Australia comply with noise standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Implementation of a phase-out of operation of Chapter 2 subsonic jet aircraft (i.e. older, noisier jet aircraft) in Australia continued throughout 1998-99. Advice was provided to aircraft operators on the compliance and non-compliance of both jet and non-jet aircraft within the provisions of the Regulations, and ensured that progressive improvement in aircraft noise impact continued.

Work progressed on assessing the impact of aircraft emissions on air quality, the 'greenhouse effect', and climate change. The Department also continued to participate in ICAO's Committee on Aviation Environment Protection to ensure that Australia's interests in critical aviation environment issues are represented.

The Department takes a major role in advising the Minister on arrangements for managing noise impact at Sydney Airport, in particular, the implementation of the Long Term Operating Plan (LTOP). It is also a member of the Implementation and Monitoring Committee established by the Government as a technical group to oversee LTOP implementation. Almost all LTOP initiatives in the 1997 Ministerial Direction to Airservices Australia have now been implemented, and noise impacts have been more equitably shared through using a variety of runway operating modes and a wider spread of flight paths. Projects are now underway to improve further the scope for noise-sharing through greater use of the east-west runway, including the introduction of additional runway operating modes, the installation of an instrument landing system on runway 25, and runway and taxiway works.

The Federal Court dismissed a challenge by three Sydney Councils to the Commonwealth environmental assessment decision-making process relating to the LTOP. The Court's decision is currently subject to appeal.

Sydney Airport Community Forum

Click here to visit Sydney Airport Community Forum website.

The Department provides secretariat support to the Sydney Airport Community Forum, established by the Government as the peak consultative body on Sydney Airport environment matters. The Forum, which comprises Federal and State parliamentary, local council, community and industry representatives from around Sydney Airport, held five meetings during the year.


The Department administers curfew arrangements at Sydney, Adelaide and Coolangatta Airports, including exercising responsibility for administering Ministerial dispensations authorising aircraft to operate during the curfew in exceptional circumstances. In 1998-99 there were 71 applications for curfew dispensations for Sydney Airport, of which 18 were approved. Details of each dispensation were tabled in both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the Sydney Airport Curfew Act 1995. The Department undertook investigations into four alleged breaches of the Act and compiled briefs on each incident for consideration by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Regulation of Federal Airports

During the year the Minister approved airport environment strategies for Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Moorabbin Airports. The Department completed detailed assessments of draft environment strategies against the provisions of the Airports Act 1996, and provided advice to the Minister on them. Brisbane Airport had its original draft strategy rejected by the Minister, and was required to revise and resubmit it. By 30 June 1999 a further eight draft environment strategies had been submitted for Ministerial approval.

The Department has appointed an Airport Environment Officer (AEO) and Airport Building Controller (ABC) for each leased federal airport. They are private sector technical specialists contracted by the Department to exercise statutory powers under the Airports Act 1996 and regulations. The AEO and ABC are responsible for day-to-day administration of environmental and building control standards. The Department manages the contractors and has responsibility for enforcing the regulations. Audit and reporting requirements exist to ensure activity at airports is monitored for compliance with regulations.

During the year the Department closely monitored the operation and effectiveness of the standards set by the regulatory regime now in place at leased federal airports. A review of legislation relating to environment protection and building control resulted in some amendment to the regulations made under the Airports Act. The Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations were amended to provide for new hydrocarbon standards relating to soil and water contamination at leased airports, and to regulate fire-training activities in relation to the generation of smoke pollution. The Airports (Building Control) Regulations were amended to incorporate a new infringement notice regime.

A slot management scheme was introduced at Sydney Airport in March 1998 in accordance with the provisions of the Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997. The allocation of a slot entitles an operator to schedule an aircraft movement to or from Sydney Airport. During 1998-99, the Department convened seven meetings of the Sydney Airport Slot Management Compliance Committee to assess compliance with the system and to review the effectiveness of compliance data collection. The Northern Winter Scheduling Season (25 October 1998-27 March 1999) was the first period in which full compliance assessment was undertaken.

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Contract management for delivery of the Program

The Sydney Airport Noise Amelioration Program has continued to provide positive outcomes for the community. During 1998-99 insulation works were completed on 668 houses, compared with 1109 in 1997-98. The reduction was caused by a fall in the number of eligible homeowners as the program nears completion.

The results of noise-testing after insulation works show that the Department is continuing to achieve its target of an average aircraft noise reduction of 10 dB(A) in bedrooms in brick houses, with 90 per cent achieving a reduction of 5 dB(A) or more.

Completion rates for insulating public buildings have been slower than anticipated, in the main due to difficulties in finalising design work in older and heritage buildings, and the need to conduct sometimes lengthy negotiation with building owners. Insulation works were completed in seven childcare centres, one aged-care centre and two churches. Construction works are at least 50 per cent complete in another four churches, three aged-care centres, three schools and one childcare centre.

Wool fibre was previously approved to insulate houses, but investigations demonstrated that the wool product, a soft-fibre ceiling insulation material, might be susceptible to insect attack. Around 1130 homeowners originally chose wool insulation, and to date 780 have accepted the offer of full replacement with such alternative products as fibre glass or rockwool. Work on 510 houses has been allocated to a group of panel builders, and 198 completions achieved.

Administration of agreement with Airservices Australia for the collection of noise levy

Click here to visit Airservices Australia website.

Aircraft noise levy receipts for 1998-99 were lower ($37.68 million) than the revised budget estimate of $40.29 million due to slackening in traffic growth and changes in fleet mix as more Chapter 2 jet aircraft were phased out.

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Policy and legislative targets

Master plans for leased federal airports are evaluated against criteria set out under the Airports Act 1996 to ensure that, among other things, consideration has been given to future requirements of airport users, land planning issues, environmental matters and the extent of public consultation. Under the Act, privatised airports are required to submit within 12 months of assuming the relevant airport lease a draft master plan to the Minister for consideration. Assessments were completed and Ministerial approval given for master plans for Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Moorabbin Airports.

Darwin, Alice Springs, Launceston, Archerfield and Jandakot Airports were given extensions of time varying from one to three months to submit their drafts. These time extensions were granted to enable the preparation of ANEFs for those airports to be finalised.

In total, 15 airport master plans are required to be submitted to the Minister. The remaining draft plans are to be assessed in the first quarter of the 1999-2000 financial year.

The sale of the Essendon Airport lease was not completed. The airport was retained by the Commonwealth and so it, and the corporatised Sydney Basin airports, were not required to submit an airport master plan.

Brisbane Airport Rail Link

The Department advised the Minister on the draft Major Development Plan for the proposed Brisbane Airport Rail Link, a project designed to meet the needs of future aviation users of the airport by providing convenient public transport from the airport to Brisbane City and beyond.

The Minister approved the draft plan on 29 August 1998, subject to two conditions:

  • the plan must comply with conditions stipulated by an Impact Assessment Study issued by Queensland Transport on 7 August 1998 (the Minister for the Environment confirmed that no further environmental assessment was required for the project under Commonwealth legislation); and
  • prior to construction of the rail link, Brisbane Airport Corporation Limited must obtain written confirmation from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Airservices Australia that the detailed design of, and operational parameters for, the rail link meet their safety and operational requirements.

Melbourne Airport Hotel Complex

The Department advised the Minister on a draft Major Development Plan for a proposal to develop a 4-star, 280-bed, 6-storey hotel in close proximity to the Melbourne Airport terminal complex.

The Minister approved the plan on 9 November 1998, subject to the developers obtaining appropriate building approvals and ensuring that environment management measures are implemented as the building progresses.

Administration of the Airports Act, Regulations, Lease and Sale Agreements

In 1998-99 the Department monitored compliance with the Airports Act 1996 and associated Airport Sale and Lease Agreements.

In June 1999 the Department began assessing a proposal for TBI plc (a British airport operator) to acquire Airport Group International's shares in Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs and Hobart Airports.

A review of legislation resulted in amendments to the Airports Act 1996 addressing:

  • extensions of time to negotiate access agreements;
  • broadening the range of activities that have an impact on the protection of controlled airspace; and
  • practical difficulties associated with administering Airport Leases.

The Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations were also amended on 9 June 1999. The amendments allow for a broad scope of activities with an impact on protected airspace to fall within the regulations (including non-structural elements such as heat or smoke from factories).

Annual lease review meetings with the leased federal airports began in June 1999. Meetings were held with Melbourne, Launceston, Jandakot and Perth Airports.

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Federal Airports Corporation

Effectively, as at 30 June 1998, all significant assets and liabilities of the Federal Airports Corporation (FAC) were transferred to new airport lessee companies pursuant to the provisions of the Airports (Transitional) Act 1996 relating to the sale.

The FAC continued in existence after 30 June 1998 and ceased airport operations as and from 24 September 1998. Transitional arrangements were put in place for the Department to manage residual FAC assets and liabilities not transferred as part of the sales process. Their transfer to the Commonwealth was completed on 8 September 1999. Additional information on the FAC can be found in the FAC 1998-99 Annual Report.

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