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Paradise Almost Lost
I have a favourite spot in the Blue Mountains, in Govett Gorge, a few kilometres upstream of the junction with the Grose River at Blue Gum Forest.
I found this spot in 1976, while camping with some mates. We had camped overnight on the sand next to the creek, in the morning I went out looking for firewood, and stumbled across a clearing. It is surrounded by tall timber, is on the opposite side of the creek to the walking tracks, and I imagined I had found somewhere nobody had ever been. Once I discovered the long-operated campfire area, and a few horse dung heaps, I realised my mistake. Back then there were wild feral horses down in the valley, all gone now, hunted out by NPWS staff.
Being there was always fantastic, the tall cliffs all around, the burbling of Govett Creek, the wind in the evening as the temperature gradients sorted themselves out, the absolute stillness and silence at night, unbelievable fields of stars above. We drank from Govett Creek (not a great idea as it had an active landfill and a sewerage treatment plant in the upstream catchment), and we never fell ill.We swam in the creek, and floated downstream on lilos, the deep blue sky above, huge blue gums all around. We sat by the campfire at night and imagined what animals were out there in the dark.
I have been back there many times, with my girlfriend, fiancée and wife, with mates, with my kids, on personal bushwalks, on Society bushwalks, the place never changes, it is always beautiful. I have walked in-and-out via Perrys Lookdown, Govetts Leap, Evans Lookout, and Lockleys Pylon. This place is why I live in the Blue Mountains, drawn to the area like a moth to flame, all because of a camping trip with some mates in 1976.
The Society was part of a campaign in the 1990’s that had this area declared as Wilderness, had the Grose river declared as a wild river, had the entire area declared as a World Heritage Area. We all worked hard to see the dreaded sewerage treatment plant(s) removed, the upstream areas weeded out, the creek buffers protected by a great Local Environment Plan.
In about 10 years my Grandkids will be ready for camping down there, but I won’t take them there. By then Aircraft will be operating out of Western Sydney Airport at Badgery's Creek. The nights won’t be silent anymore, as an endless series of huge aircraft will be flying overheard at all hours to and from this no-curfew Airport.
Some of them will be lumbering Airbus A380’s, weighing 560 tonnes at takeoff, roaring their way over the Mountains, taking their hundreds of passengers directly to Dubai in one hop. Some of them will be older-design and noisier 747-8F freight planes (still being manufactured today despite assurances that they are being ’phased out’), 213 tonnes empty, carrying some residual fuel, as well as their cargo, as they come in to land. These freight planes will bring loads of mobile phones and other tech toys from Hong Kong for delivery in the early morning, to be trucked out of WSA into the M12/M7/M4/M9 Motorway network before morning peak hour.
When looking at the sky above from Govett Creek, you won’t just see an unbelievable field of stars, but also the navigation beacons of dozens of aircraft in their holding pattern over the Grose valley, waiting for the early morning fog to clear at Badgery's Creek. The silence and beauty and majesty and awe I experienced as a 15-year-old in 1976 will be replaced by noise, fumes, a rain of fine particulates, flashing lights, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, an endless procession of huge aircraft passing overhead.
Western Sydney Airport doesn’t have an ocean to use as a noise buffer, so it will use the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, minimal people will be affected, as there is nobody but hardy campers out there in the Wilderness.
I wish my Grandkids could have seen my camping spot when it was perfect, but it is too late now, as it will be ruined in 2025 when the Airport opens. What a shame.
Ross Coster, Blue Mountains Conversation Society 2015
Click here for a extensive review of all these concerns with references
RAWSA has the following real concerns of;
The known health risks (both physical and psychological)to the communities living around airports and under flight paths,
The adverse social impact to the communities living around airports and under flight paths,
The documented risk to childhood education and learning plus the deprivation of sleep for those living under and around airports,
The total lack of respite, to the communities living around the proposed airport, and under the flight paths, due to the 24 hours a day operations
The social inequity between Sydney Airport and the proposed Western Sydney airport.
The adverse impact on the surrounding environment, flora and fauna and biodiversity,
The risk to the World Heritage status of the Blue Mountains National Park,
The risk to Sydney’s drinking water from ‘floating and wind disbursed’ burnt jet fuel emissions and potential fuel dumping,
The potential negative impacts on indigenous heritage,
The increased risks and costs from the excessive loading of road transport routes radiating from the airport region due to
the mass transportation requirement for fuel, cargo and servicing needs of the airport
and the transit of passengers and workers to and from the airport,
The misrepresentation of the true number ' full-time equivalent' jobs. There is nonet growth of jobsfor Stage 1 as reported in the EIS 2015,
The dubious need for an immediate construction of a second Sydney airport given that Sydney airport is not forecast to reach capacity until 2045.
Theproven unreliability and inadequacy of the current EIS
That an airport at Badgerys Creek will be unable to comply with international ICAO regulations for the prevention of bird and bat strike
Poor air quality in Western Sydney and that the development in and around the airport will amplify this effect.