Pushback over land acquisitions for rail line to new Sydney airport12th January 2021
Western Sydney University also called for the government to reverse its decision not to build a station at its campus at Werrington, describing it as “extremely disappointing and short sighted”.
“Without reconsideration of the station options, the metro [rail line] will have little long-term economic benefit for the education, health and knowledge-intensive industries in western Sydney,” it said. “The NSW government must deliver a rail line that supports job generation.”
But Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the cost of a station at Werrington outweighed the benefits, which could be achieved elsewhere along the route. “It will not be reconsidered,” he said.
Mr Constance also ruled out reconsidering the rail alignment of other station locations, which had been confirmed “through a detailed planning process”.
Under the plans, six stations will be built along the line via the airport at Badgerys Creek, including at Luddenham and Orchard Hills.
Sydney University’s concerns centre on the “extent of land identified for acquisition” from its 161-hectare property near the entrance to the airport.
About 40 hectares has been identified by Sydney Metro for acquisition, significantly more than a nine-hectare corridor originally earmarked in government planning documents. The extra 31 hectares includes more than 600 metres of frontage to Elizabeth Drive opposite the airport.
“The project will have a significant impact on the property as a result of land acquisition, access restriction and land fragmentation,” the university said in a submission.
A Sydney Metro spokesman said the university land identified for acquisition had been “thoroughly considered and is required for both the rail corridor and associated construction activities”.
Labor’s spokesman for western Sydney, Greg Warren, said the concerns of the universities and other stakeholders should not be dismissed.
“If the government gets the location of the … line and stations wrong, then it will be current and future generations of western Sydney residents who ultimately suffer the consequences,” he said.
Penrith Council also urged the government to release the business case for the rail project so the rationale for the decision against a station at the city’s health and education precinct could be understood. It was “disappointed” a station would not be built there.
The agency expects to complete all of the acquisitions for the airport line by the end of this year. It declined to reveal the total budgeted cost of the land acquisitions, other than to say it was “within the overall project costs”.
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Matt O’Sullivan is City Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.