Melbourne airport third runway will induce aviation emissions growth

August 7, 2019 at 2:42 am Leave a comment

Stop Melbourne Airport Expansion

Report of a workshop at Craigieburn with Melbourne Airport Corporation on development of the third runway – main focus was runway will induce more aviation emissions, climate impact, climate damages by Climate Action Moreland Convenor, John Englart.


I attended the workshop with Melbourne Airport Corporation regarding the 3rd runway configuration at Craigieburn on Tuesday August 6. One other person attended…the first few consultation workshops were full, so a drop-off in attendance as the consultations progressed.

My main focus was on the climate impact of a 3rd runway (and 4th runway down the track). The Airport has a growth business model which sees flight capacity doubling over the next 20 years. If this happens, it will contribute to cooking the planet.

So why are they assessing change in orientation of the 3rd runway from a second east-west to a second north-south? A number of factors including increase in prevailing northerly windstrength, and peak windstrength of gusts, from more recent measurements, turbulence produced by terminal buildings, airlin tolerance standards for cross-winds. They put forward that based on older data they would get 95% capacity use, but once they took into account factors above this would drop to 80% use. If they build East-west runway, then they would need to build 2nd north-south runway much sooner.

I find it interesting that weather data, and a pretty explicit change in weather, has caused this reassessment. We are entering times where our weather is changing, but also the climate. What climate projections have they used for justifying new runways into the future with infrastructure which they told me might have a 100 year lifespan. We know global heating is contributing to more turbulent atmosphere, bumpier flights that will affect flight paths and fuel consumption.

I outlined that I want to see a moratorium on new runway expansion to cap the aviation emissions and climate impact of aviation. That although the airport Corporation is not responsible directly for aviation emissions, they do have a large indirect reponsibility as the infrastructure they add especially in terms of new runways will induce more flights and more emissions. Yes, airlines are nominally responsible for emissions, Australian Government has regulatory rtesponsibility fopr domestic aviation emissions, and the International Civil Aviation organisation has responsibility for international flights.

I highlighted that I wasn’t calling for the closure of aviation, recognising the important economic role aviation currently plays in local, state and national economy, but at this stage to cap airport expansion to limit growth in aviation and the emissions from this sector.

One of the responses was that the airport is already introducing energy efficiency and is developing it’s own solar farm to reduce it’s grid use of electricity. I pointed out that greening airport infrastructure only accounts for 5 percent of the emissions problem from aviation, a new runway will induce more emissions.

I was asked what I thought the airport could do given they have a growth business model. I called for them to not only green their own infrastructure but to apply pressure on the airlines on emissions, introduce education prograns for flight passengers on how much emissions they produce per flight, provide high quality carbon offset program that passengers can easily sign up to.

I did raise that domestic aviation pays just 3.5 cents per litre fuel tax, as against 41 cents per litre for the petrol or diesel we fill up our cars with. International flights pay no fuel tax whatsoever.

I questioned their risk management policy over the possibility (remote though it presently may seem) of future changes in the regulatory regime. Although changes might seem remote, the speed of climate change, the growing social movement for the climate emergency (over 1000 local governments and growing), means that big regulatory changes might happen fairly rapidly. They need to have this listed in their Business Risk management plan.

I also raised that their business model and risk management plan also needs to consider future development of a high speed east coast rail network.

Both of these are items that might make a 3rd runway and a 4th runway redundant.

Possible ways to cap demand (this would probably require Federal Government regulatory action) would be: a frequent flyer tax that escalates the more flights you take in a given period; or implementing a personal carbon budget in which carbon emissions for flights would be accounted for.

I also said I supported the airport rail link to reduce road congestion, that cycling network within the airport precinct needed improving, as well as the cycling links to adjacent suburbs and Melbourne’s principle bicycle network. They agreed with me.

I have been to a few of these Melbourne Airport consultations, so the public engagement staff are getting to know me.

It feels like I’m beating my head against a brick wall, but sometimes I suspect I’m making a small dent, perhaps a hairline fracture. We need to start somewhere in making infrastructure business such as Melbourne Airport accountable for the climate damage they are already causing, and the business growth model such as runway development which will accelerate those climate damages.

Update: Timeline for Melbourne Airport 3rd Runway development

July-Dec 2019
Melbourne Airport’s Third Runway is currently at this stage
Consultation with airlines, Federal Government, regulators and community regarding a potential change in the orientation of the third runway.

Dec 2019
this is an upcoming stage for Melbourne Airport’s Third Runway
Melbourne Airport to determine the orientation of the third runway and commence planning for the project.

2020
this is an upcoming stage for Melbourne Airport’s Third Runway
Melbourne Airport to undertake detailed work on the third runway and prepare a Preliminary Draft Major Development Plan.

2021
this is an upcoming stage for Melbourne Airport’s Third Runway
Preliminary Draft Major Development Plan for the third runway project expected to be on public exhibition.

2021/2022
this is an upcoming stage for Melbourne Airport’s Third Runway
If approved, construction on the third runway to commence.

2025
this is an upcoming stage for Melbourne Airport’s Third Runway
If approved, operation of the third runway to begin.


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Entry filed under: aviation, news, transport. Tags: , .

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