Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport (Airport) is one of Australia's most significant infrastructure projects and once constructed will be a national aviation asset, supporting the growth and success of Western Sydney and greater Sydney on a global scale.
To protect safe 24/7 operations and long term growth of the Airport, and to ensure the Airport realises its full benefits to Western Sydney, land use surrounding the Airport has been carefully planned with regard to the National Airports Safeguarding Framework (Framework).
The Framework provides guidance on planning requirements for development that may affect aviation operations by requiring:
• noise-sensitive land uses to be located outside of areas affected by aircraft noise;
• locating buildings to avoid wind shear and turbulence;
• locating wind turbines appropriately;
• ensuring lighting does not distract or confuse pilots;
• maintaining an obstacle free operational airspace;
• ensuring off-airport development does not impact the communication navigation and surveillance (CNS) equipment; and
• managing land uses in public safety areas.
The Framework consists of a set of principles that provide information, guidance and recommendations relating to airport safeguarding matters to promote good planning outcomes on and surrounding the Airport. The first principle of the Framework is:
The safety, efficiency and operational integrity of airports should be protected by all governments, recognising their economic, defence and social significance.
The Framework reiterates the paramount importance of safeguarding the Airport and ensures development surrounding the Airport has due consideration to the potential impacts of aircraft operations, in order to minimise effects on people living and working around the Airport.
The full Framework and guidelines are published on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications website, which can be accessed here .
State Environmental Planning Policy (Western Sydney Aerotropolis) 2020
The Framework has been implemented through the State Environmental Planning Policy (Western Sydney Aerotropolis) 2020 (SEPP) which commenced on 1 October 2020 and sets out the land use and planning controls for the 11,200 hectare area surrounding the Airport, known as the ' Western Sydney Aerotropolis'. The land governed by the SEPP does not include the Mamre Road Precinct which is zoned under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Western Sydney Employment Area) 2009).
The SEPP aims to facilitate and promote the sustainable, orderly and transformational development of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis whilst ensuring development is compatible with the long-term growth and development of the Airport (including in relation to the operation of the Airport 24 hours a day).
The SEPP should be carefully considered in the preparation of any development application on land within the Western Sydney Aerotropolis or that is affected by the Obstacle Limitation Service (OLS) or noise from the operations of the Airport.
The SEPP is complemented by the Western Sydney Aerotropolis Development Control Plan (DCP) Phase 1 which identifies the precinct planning principles, objectives and performance outcomes to allow precinct planning in the Aerotropolis to progress.
To view the complete Western Sydney Aerotropolis Planning Package click here.
Aviation safeguarding mapping tool
WSA has developed an online aviation safeguarding mapping tool (Tool) which interprets some of the planning protection overlays referred to in Part 3 of the SEPP, on any particular parcel of land in the vicinity of the Airport. The Tool shows:
- The maximum height at which a building may be constructed on land within the Aerotropolis, without breaching the obstacle limitation surface and becoming an obstacle or hazard to aircraft operations;
- Wildlife buffer zones, being land within certain radiuses of the Airport where consideration of wildlife hazard issues is required;
- Land within the lighting intensity areas which significant lighting and/or coloured lighting is restricted or is required to be designed to minimise risk of distraction to pilots;
- Areas of land which are likely to be affected by aircraft operations and which must therefore undergo strict assessment in terms of the type of development that can be carried out on the land and the mitigation measures required to ensure that the development does not result in unnecessary constraints on airport operations;
- Areas of land within a certain proximity of the Airport where buildings have the potential to generate or increase wind turbulence or windshear and therefore aircraft instability during landing or take-off;
- The areas of land at the end of the Airport runways which are considered to be risk areas for aircraft incidences involving take-off or landing which must be strictly controlled and managed to reduce the amount of people that may be affected in the event of such incident.
To see which safeguarding layers that may apply to your land click here
WSA advises that the information displayed in the Tool is for guidance purposes only and is subject to change. WSA makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information or that it has been audited or verified. You accept responsibility for the interpretation, opinion or conclusion that you form as a result of examining the information.
Any information provided on WSA's website or via the Tool is not professional advice and WSA recommends that any person proposing to develop land, seek independent professional advice specific to their development.
WSA does not warrant the information is correct or up to date and accepts no liability for any loss of any kind from reliance on the information provided or obtained through WSA's website or the Tool.
Protected Airspace - Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS)
Protecting immediate airspace around the Airport is essential to ensuring and maintaining a safe operating environment for aircraft and the long-term future growth of the Airport.
Protection of airspace around the Airport is safeguarded by declaring an 'Obstacle Limitation Surface' (OLS). The shape of airspace protected by the OLS has been designed in strict accordance with international standards that are based on criteria such as runway direction and elevation. The OLS should not be used to anticipate the design of future flight paths.
The OLS (also known as the 'protected' or 'prescribed' airspace) for the Airport was declared on 19 October 2017 under the provisions of the Airports Act 1996 (Cth) and Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations 1996 (Protection of Airspace Regulations). The OLS represents the lower limits of airspace, designed to provide protection for aircraft flying into or out of the Airport, when the pilot is flying by in visual conditions.
The OLS sets height limits of objects (for example buildings and cranes) around an airport. Setting height limits for objects around the Airport ensures that the airspace is maintained free from obstacles so as to:
• permit aeroplane operations to be conducted safely; and
• prevent the Airport from becoming unusable by the growth of obstacles around the Airport.
Development that intrudes into the OLS should be avoided. Where a proposed development penetrates the OLS it must be reported to CASA. It must be carefully planned and examined to identify potential impacts on aircraft operations and mitigate those impacts, where necessary. As part of the assessment of a development application for development that protrudes into the OLS for the Airport, clause 24 of the SEPP requires the consent authority to consult with WSA.
In addition, separate approvals under the Protection of Airspace Regulations are required for certain activities that protrude into the OLS. Those activities, referred to as 'controlled activities' are listed in section 182 of the Airports Act 1996 (Cth) and include:
• permanent structures, such as buildings, intruding into the OLS;
• temporary structures such as cranes intruding into the OLS (information for crane operators); and
• any activities causing intrusions into the OLS through glare from artificial light or reflected sunlight, air turbulence from stacks or vents, smoke, dust, steam or other gases or particulate matter.
Under the Protection of Airspace Regulations, some proposed permanent and temporary structures around the Airport may be exempt but should still be referred to WSA.
The height of the OLS surface in relation to any land affected by those surfaces, is illustrated in the Tool. The Tool only provides an estimation of ground level elevations. A development proposal will need to be accompanied by a detailed site and topographic survey to determine actual ground levels.
You can read more about the OLS here:
Understanding the protected airspace for Western Sydney Airport PDF: 427 KB which provides an overview of the technical features of the OLS as well as pictures that show how it works.
Development in the Obstacle Limitation Surface PDF: 84 KB which explains how building and development surrounding the Airport may have an effect on the OLS, and outlines the kinds of development activities which may also interact with the OLS. The document also provides information on the approvals needed from WSA to carry out development.
The Western Sydney Airport OLS chart PDF: 11874 KB is a map of the OLS area around the Airport.
You can also read more about how airspace protection works at other airports in Australia on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications website.
The safety and efficiency of an airport’s operational airspace can be compromised not only by buildings and structures but also congregation of wildlife, particularly birds and bats. Wildlife strikes can cause significant economic risk such as delays and cancellations of flights as a result of damage to aircraft. There is also the possibility of injury to pilots and passengers.
Certain land uses, land embellishments and landscaping have a propensity to attract wildlife which can then migrate onto the Western Sydney Airport site or into flights paths, increasing the risk of wildlife strikes. In an effort to mitigate risks of wildlife hazards, land use around the Airport is being carefully planned by the implementation of wildlife buffer zones.
Wildlife buffer zones are areas of land within the Aerotropolis which are mapped to control development surrounding the Airport for the purposes of reducing the risks of wildlife hazards. The wildlife buffer zones have been mapped within a 3, 8 and 13 km radius of the Airport's runways.
Under the SEPP and the Western Sydney Aerotropolis DCP Phase 1:
1. Certain land uses are prohibited within the 3km buffer zone;
2. Development applications for specified uses on land within the 13km buffer zone must be accompanied by a wildlife hazard assessment and wildlife management plan, incorporating relevant mitigation and monitoring measures; and
3. Development applications for specified uses on land within the 13 km buffer zone must be accompanied by a waste management plan for the operation of the use of the land.
The prohibited and specified land uses are listed in the SEPP.
If your land is within a 13 km radius of the Airport, you should confirm whether you are required to lodge a wildlife hazard assessment and wildlife management plan with your development application and if so, you may wish to seek advice from a suitably qualified consultant such as an ornithologist or biologist for the purposes of preparing the wildlife hazard assessment and wildlife management plan.
Refer to the Western Sydney Aerotropolis planning controls and NASF Guideline C - Managing the Risk of Wildlife Strikes in the Vicinity of Airports, for further information.
Lighting and reflectivity
Pilots are reliant on specific patterns of aeronautical ground lights during inclement weather and outside daylight hours. The aeronautical ground lights, such as runway light and approach light, play a vital role in enabling pilots to align aircraft with the runway and land aircraft appropriately.
Therefore, certain types of lighting in close proximity to the Airport can cause glare, distraction or confusion to pilots which can result in significant safety risk.
The area in which lighting is considered likely to impact on the safe operations of aircraft is defined in four Lighting Intensity Zones in immediate proximity to the runways and a six kilometre radius of the Airport for certain other development. The Lighting Intensity Zones are referred to as Zones A-D and there are restrictions on lighting intensity/light spill in the Zones.
Any land mapped in the Lighting Intensity Map of the SEPP, as being within the lighting intensity area and which incorporates significant new lighting and/or coloured lights (whether temporary such as part of construction or permanent) is required to be referred to WSA, for consultation. Examples of such lighting include but are not limited to, stadium flood lighting and construction lighting.
Additionally, buildings should be designed having regard to reducing distraction to pilots as a result of reflected sunlight.
It is recommended that you:
• seek professional advice in designing any development within the lighting intensity area of the SEPP that will incorporate significance new lighting and/or coloured lighting; and
• have regard to the principles in Guideline E of the NASF Framework in designing your development.
Refer to the Western Sydney Aerotropolis planning controls for further information.
Expected noise exposure levels from the Airport's proposed operation has been identified through the Australian Noise Exposure Concept (ANEC), generated based on the runway direction and indicative flight paths for take-off and landing of aircrafts.
The Tool and the Noise Exposure Contour Map of the SEPP, show the indicative land areas expected to by aircraft noise.
The coloured areas shown on the map are noise exposure contours, displayed in representative units of 20, 25, 30 and 35+. The higher the contour numbers, the higher the levels of noise exposure. The units are not decibel measurements, they are representative units generated from a noise model which builds in aircraft types and performance, points of origin and destination, noise level and pitch and the number and time of movements.
The ANEC contours are not flight paths and properties outside of the ANEC contours may still experience aircraft noise. The flight paths for the Airport are currently being developed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. Designing and finalising flight paths is a large and complex task that takes several years to complete, with ongoing community engagement. You can read further information on the flight path design process on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications website.
The most effective means for managing and reducing impact of aircraft noise, is through careful land use planning of areas in the vicinity of airports. The SEPP aims to ensure that land use and development near the Airport do not hinder or have other adverse impacts on the ongoing, safe and efficient 24 hours a day operation of the Airport, by prohibiting noise sensitive development in certain areas and requiring some buildings meet specified design standards.
Prior to lodging a development application, you may wish to use the Tool and consider the Noise Exposure Contour Map in the SEPP, to ensure that your proposed development meets any requirements under the SEPP with respect to noise impacts.
The size, shape and location of buildings in the vicinity of the Airport have potential to generate wind shear (being changes in wind speed and/or direction between two points) and turbulence (being rapid changes in wind speed and/or direction at a fixed point), which may affect operations of the Airport, including instability of aircraft during landing or take off.
Any development application which proposes development on land mapped on the Wind Shear Map as being in a windshear assessment trigger area and which penetrates the 1:35 surface (being structures that have a distance to the runway centreline that is less than 35 times their height), should have regard to any windshear and turbulence risk to the operations at the Airport and must, in accordance with clause 20 of the SEPP, be referred to WSA, for consultation.
It is recommended such development applications be accompanied by a windshear and turbulence risk assessment prepared by a suitably qualified wind engineer.
Refer to the Western Sydney Aerotropolis planning controls and NASF Guideline B for further information.
WSA advises that the information displayed regarding Airport Safeguarding is for guidance purposes only and is subject to change. WSA makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information or that it has been audited or verified. You accept responsibility for the interpretation, opinion or conclusion that you form as a result of examining the information.
Any information provided on WSA's website is not professional advice and WSA recommends that any person proposing to develop land, seek independent professional advice specific to their development.
WSA does not warrant the information is correct or up to date and accepts no liability for any loss of any kind from reliance on the information provided or obtained through WSA's website.