Essendon Airport plan approved but not released

The master plan controlling the development of Essendon Airport over the next 20 years has been approved, but has not been released to the public.

The airport has 50 business days to release the final plan, starting from May 16, when it was approved by Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Warren Truss.

Kelvin Thomson, federal MP for Wills, which covers the airport, called for the plan to be released immediately.

“It is unsatisfactory,” he said. “Once the plan is approved it should be available to the public.

“There’s no justification for this; the public can’t and I can’t comment on the plan because we don’t know what’s in it.”

He welcomed Mr Truss’ decision not to give the airport the green light to shorten its north-south runway as part of his approval of the master plan.

“This is a controversial issue with no community consensus,” Mr Thomson said.

He said people in Strathmore Heights were concerned a shorter runway would result in

aircraft flying lower over homes and increase noise problems. People near the east-west runway were concerned the runway would get more traffic if the north-south runway was shortened.

Mr Truss said a decision on the north-south runway would be made after a “very detailed investigation involving examination of operational, safety and environmental impacts, including from aircraft noise”, and public consultation.

Mr Truss said the plan included “significant” non-aviation developments – which he did not reveal.

He said he would not agree to “any development which would compromise the use of Essendon for aviation”.

“We accept the necessity for an element of non-aviation land use at airports, provided it does not compromise the current and future capacity of the airport to serve its primary, aviation-related purpose,” he said.

Matt Harvey, of the Fly Fair lobby group, said residents could not assume the final plan would mirror the draft plan released last September.

“There’s been a fair bit of water under the bridge, including a major announcement by the state government,” he said.

The state government revealed in March a $2 billion plan to develop the airport and Airport West into a major employment precinct, including a $30 million hotel on the Commonwealth-owned airport land.

Essendon Airport chief executive Chris Cowan said the airport had “nothing to hide” but it had a “legal process to go through” before releasing the plan.

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