By Laura Michell
Brimbank council has expressed its disappointment at the federal government’s decision to approve the Melbourne Airport Master Plan.
Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King approved the master plan on Monday, November 14.
The master plan provides high-level approval for the development of the airport over the next 20 years.
It includes plans for a four-runway layout but changes the order in which new runways will be built, with the third runway proposed to be a north-south configuration instead of east-west.
Ms King said her approval of the master plan did not indicate approval of the future Major Development Plan for the third runway.
She said this plan would undergo a separate process, subject to assessment on its own merits.
Ms King said while she approved the master plan, she has concerns regarding some aspects of the proposal, including changes to the existing runways and noise sharing and mitigation arrangements.
“The management of these concerns will be an important consideration during the assessment of the Major Development Plan, which is expected to be submitted in early 2023,” she said.
Brimbank mayor Jasmine Nguyen said council wanted to understand Ms King’s reasons for approving the plan after consideration of comments from itself and the community.
“Council has significant concerns about the unreasonable and unacceptable health risks posed to our community if the north-south third runway goes ahead,” she said.
“Earlier this year council commissioned an independent assessment of the health risks associated with Melbourne Airport’s draft Master Plan and Major Development Plan.
“It found the noise impacts would exceed World Health Organisation Noise Guidelines and children under these flight paths could experience cognitive delays of up to six months. In addition, the noise could cause sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.”
In September, council launched its ‘Know the facts on the third runway’ campaign, which called on the government to commission and publicly release a full and thorough independent investigation into the potential health impacts of the proposed third runway before it made a decision on Melbourne Airport’s proposal.
“We’re also calling for Melbourne Airport to publicly release the full health impacts report and the analysis of and response to submissions that informed their proposal,” Cr Nguyen said,
“We can assure the Brimbank community that council will keep pushing hard so their needs and health concerns are considered as part of the Minister’s assessment of Melbourne Airport’s Major Development Plan, expected to be submitted in early 2023.”
Melbourne Airport chief executive Lorie Argus said the master plan would help ensure the airport remains fit for purpose.
“Key to this is construction of a third runway, which will improve the efficiency of the airfield by introducing parallel operations, while also allowing the airport to cater for increased demand,” she said.
Melbourne Airport said a decision on the third runway Major Development Plan is expected around the middle of next year.