Moreland Council questions Melbourne Airport expansion in a climate emergency

May 13, 2022 at 3:09 pm Leave a comment

Image: Aviation emissions and targets (PDF) – No 3rd Runway Campaign

On Wednesday night (11 May, 2022) Moreland Council passed a motion authorising a submission to the 2022 Draft Preliminary Melbourne Airport Master Plan and Third Runway Major Development Plan. An amendment changed a rather insipid submission to one that correlated with Moreland’s forward thinking and past resolutions on the climate emergency and advocacy for sustainable transport.

Melbourne Airport are currently collating submissions by 16 May 2022. A report will then be prepared for the Federal Transport Minister to consider the Draft Airport Masterplan and the Major Development Plan and all the feedback. There is an active campaign against expansion of Melbourne Airport.

Some candidates for Wills electorate for the Federal election have answered a question on expansion of Melbourne airport.

The third paragraph of Moreland Council submission has been amended to say:

However, Council is not supportive of a strategic vision that will see an additional runway built and airport capacity increased. Within the context of a climate emergency we need to be rapidly reducing the emissions and air pollution caused by the transport sector to protect the health and wellbeing of our community and our planet.  The community are concerned about the noise and health impacts of this proposed runway, in addition to the fact that there are no plans for a curfew. It is Council’s submission that the federal government needs to urgently invest in alternatives to air travel, such as high speed rail to reduce emissions from aviation. Any offsetting of environmental impacts associated with the airport’s activities need to be delivering superior environmental outcomes to the current state, rather than an overall degradation.

Amended text to Draft Moreland Council submission on Melbourne Airport third runway Major Development plan

John Englart, Convenor of Climate Action Moreland attended Council Meeting in the public gallery and had submitted a statement to read to Councillors. The Mayor decided this would be taken on notice and answered in writing, so the statement was not read to all Councillors present.

The Council Officer report associated with the draft submission had a couple of notable omissions, including failure to mention previous Council advocacy motion for High Speed Rail as a sustainable alternative to privately owned airport expansion, and failure to mention climate impacts and emissions associated with airport expansion.

Statement to Moreland Council

Re: 2022 Preliminary Draft Melbourne Airport Master Plan And Third Runway Major Development Plan

The officer report fails to mention in Previous Council decisions: Moreland Council passed a motion advocating for High Speed Rail at Council’s October 2018 meeting, “to connect Australia’s cities instead of expanding the privately-owned airports.” Also the Officer report in the Environmental Impacts section does not mention increase in greenhouse gas emissions and high altitude climate impacts that will result from extra flights. These omissions are vital information to Councillors, whether it be based on Melbourne Airports own low figures based on take-off and landings (Claimed annual warming from Third Runway flights in 2046 by Melbourne Airport 0.348 million t CO2-e), or more broadly based carbon emissions accounting that includes high altitudes emissions and impacts.

(Note: Total annual warming from Third Runway flights in 2046 16 million t CO2-e. The 3rd runway will add the equivalent of Loy Yang B power station emissions every year. Total cumulative warming from the extra Third Runway flights out to 2046 is estimated at 160 million tonnes CO2-e. Reference: Emissions explainer chart PDF, Mark Carter, 5 May 2022, Tullamarine’s dream of a third runway is an emissions nightmare )

There is no independent health risk assessment being done for the third runway expansion. Particulate matter, particularly PM2.5 has not been adequately modelled. Ultrafines (which are even smaller than PM2.5) are particularly harmful to health (Kwon et al 2020) with no modelling or environmental health risk assessment done.

(Note: I would expect particulate pollution to be similar to Hudda et al (2014) and their findings for LAX, to follow the downwind of the active flight paths.)

Moreland Council has a commitment to advocate for Climate emergency action. Expansion of Melbourne Airport with a third runway will increase aviation climate emissions by 55%, emissions equivalent to Loy Yang B power station.

Melbourne Airport does not factor in business risk of development of a east coast High Speed Rail network, which Federal Labor is advocating a start on. Neither does the airport take into account changes in flying behaviour with growing numbers flying less and more people using videoconferencing rather than travel for meetings.

(Note: There is also a business risk here which Melbourne Airport fails to own. Federal Labor has committed to sustainable transport development and has promised to establish a High Speed Rail Authority, with an initial project of Fast rail between Sydney and Newcastle. Any High speed rail that gets built between Sydney and Melbourne in the next decade would eat into the domestic flight traffic – and the Sydney-Melbourne route based on pre-pandemic traffic was the 2nd busiest domestic flight route in the world.)

Even the proposal for environment offsets to be more than the minimum is far from perfect given these are threatened ecological system habitats. The environmental offset should be of greater size, and be of similar or greater habitat quality (assessed by an independent ecologist) with the offsets implemented before any approved work is started.

From Statement submitted to Moreland Council

Annual and cumulative emissions – as calculated by airport and actual

Image 3rd Runway campaign – claimed and actual emissions per annum and to 2046

Destruction of threatened ecosystems

There is also the threatened destruction of a significant biodiversity ecosystem including Grey Box Woodland and volcanic plains grassland, located at the northern end of the airport.

The Grey Box Woodland covers 136.57 hectares and has two ecosystem communities now threatened with extinction. Listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) as Grey Box and Grassy Woodlands, and the Derived Native Grasslands of South Eastern Australia, they are protected by the EPBC Act. 

Melbourne Airport will be able to destroy these ecosystems and habitat under the EPBC Act offsets policy. Neither the location of any offset or the date of its purchase are mentioned in the Major Development Plan.

Read the Statement from Environment Victoria on how Melbourne calculate greenhouse gas emissions rather than a broader calculation including all aviation emissions

Take Action

You can make an objection

You can sign the petition to undertake an Environment Impact Statement and Health Impacts assessment


For general background please read Mark Carter’s 32 page 2018 report: The Elephant in the Sky, which outlines the general issues and problems with aviation given we have a climate emergency.

See also:

References for lead image on emissions and targets:

Percentage increase are estimates, derived as follows and from the assumption that percentage increases in emissions match percentage increases in aircraft movements.
+83% emissions for Total flights:
Total aircraft movements in 2005 were 175,436 and in 2018 were 243,369
(Source: ) and projected to be +320,700 in 2031 (Source: Melbourne Airport Corporation, Third Runway Major Development Plan, Table A2.3 ).
So 320,700 is an increase of 145,264 on 175,436, or an 83% increase.

+55% emissions for Domestic ights:
Total domestic aircraft movements in 2005 were 150,222 and in 2018 were 190,914 (Source: ) and projected to be 232,600 in 2031
(Source: Melbourne Airport Corporation, Third Runway Major Development Plan, Table A2.2 )
So 232,600 is an increase of 82,378 on 150,222, or an 55% increase.

-100% emissions for all flights:
(Source: + )

Entry filed under: aviation, Climate Emergency, health, Moreland Council, news, transport. Tags: , , , , , , .

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