Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion

What has happened

The Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) initially proposed to upgrade the existing facilities at the Sunshine Coast Airport through the construction of a new East-West runway, a new Terminal precinct and new aerospace business areas.  Planning for the project commenced with the development of a draft master plan in 2006 followed by a Conceptual Development Plan in 2010 as well as associated Business Cases in 2009 & 10.

 airport expansion master plan

Council’s reasons for upgrade

  • A longer & wider run way will allow more types of aircraft including wider bodied aircraft with greater capacity (more people) and range (more destinations).
  • Fewer dwellings in public safety area and noise impact area (according to EIS statement)
  • Increased passenger numbers will increase tourism spend in the region and increase number of jobs at the airport
  • The airport currently operates under a CASA safety dispensation which will end in 2021, the new runway will meet all safety standards and not require renewal of the CASA dispensation

[On 13 November 2014, due to amendments to the CASA regulations, the requirements for safe operation were transferred from the airport operators to the airline operators.]

History of the project

  • The project was referred under the EPBC Act in 2011 and was found to be a controlled action because it impacts on:
    • wetlands of international importance (sections 16 and 17B)
    • listed threatened species and communities (sections 18 and 18A)
    • listed migratory species (sections 20 and 20A)

Click here for more details about the environmental concerns.

  • The project is being assessed through the State led Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process which will satisfy the Commonwealth assessment process through the Bi-lateral Agreement with QLD. It will require approval by the Federal Environment Minister.
  • The terms of reference for the EIS were released in May 2012.
  • The EIS was released for public comment from Monday 29 September to Thursday 13 November 2014.  It was assessed by the Co-ordinator General resulting in another document ‘Additional Information To The EIS’ (AEIS).

View the EIS Summary here.  View the AEIS (main document) here

  • As part of the EIS process, a ‘Value Engineering Exercise’ significantly reduced the extent of works previously identified in the Conceptual Development Plan in 2010.

Runway EIS proposal

  • Estimated expenditure for EIS project (‘New Runway’) at $347 M. Economic analysis results for Net Present Value (NPV) is $243 M and Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) is 2.45.
  • The AEIS was released for public comment from Monday 2 November to Monday 30 November 2015.  The assessment by the Co-ordinator General has been completed and his Report was released on 19 May 2016 approving the Project, but with conditions.
  • The COG Report is currently with the Federal Environment Minister for his final assessment.

A “Do Minimum” alternative has also been proposed (also as part of the EIS process)

  • This upgrade to the airport would achieve CASA compliance for runway widths.
  • Current runway would be widened to 45 meters and extending runway 60 meters beyond existing strip.
  • Increased runway safety areas at both ends.
  • Estimated expenditure for “Do Minimum” project between $70 M and $80 M (compared to expansion project estimated expenditure at $347 M).  [The AEIS released results of the economic analysis for the ‘Do Minimum’ alternative – NPV $297.6 M and BCR 9.561.]

*The Sunshine Coast Airport has discounted this option on the grounds that it “would just maintain access to the existing limited, mainly east coast, domestic markets” while also not being “consistent with SCC objectives to support the regions’s economy.”

Comments by SCEC

The results, as provided in the EIS and AEIS documents, indicate that ‘Do Minimum’ is significantly better economically (NPV, BCR and capital cost) than the ‘New Runway’ option, even with  increased access to destinations for the ‘New Runway!

 The economic assessment results (as well as environmental aspects) give a strong indication that the project, based on the ‘New Runway’, should be re-evaluated, unless more information is made available to show otherwise.

View the AEIS Submission by SCEC

(cover letter, summary, attachment 1attachment 2 , attachment 3)


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