We have all sadly watched our air quality become increasingly worse, with a recent and frighteningly rapid deterioration. Some of our members have the advantage (if that is what it could be called) to live on (or be associated with) high land in the centre of the Sydney basin. We are horrified to see that not only has the city now become enveloped in a constant shroud of polluted haze, such that only the vague silhouette of the city skyline can be made out, but that the blue mountains to our west, always so startlingly clear and ever-present, has now also disappeared into a hazy porridge of polluted air. This deterioration has been shockingly rapid, and whereas only some ten years or so ago it was a major event that blocked the mountains from view, this has now reversed completely. It now takes some major event (such as extended holiday periods or a very powerful southerly wind) to clear the air to the extent that the mountains can be plainly seen.

We have within our local area the highest hill in the Sydney basin - ‘Moonrise’. It affords magnificent views of the Sydney basin on an almost 360 degree basis, and is an extremely spectacular night time view. Several of our members drove up to Moonrise on May 4th, 1999, to see any change in view, since it was after recent winds and storms which help to clear the air, and was a moonlit night, with no cloud cover. We were shocked to the core to see that the city skyscape had all but disappeared from view - the city silhouette now being only a hazy outline, very difficult to make out, in a night time sea of polluted haze. Whereas only a year ago one could see into lighted buildings with a pair of binoculars, now one must use binoculars simply to be able to see the lights themselves, even then, unclearly. Please note, this is early May so people are not really up to this point, using fireplaces to warm themselves, and note that air pollution has previously not been a night time problem.

The Badgerys Airport EIS technical paper, book 6 page 3-9, notes: "Moussiopoulos et al (1996) reported a study of nitrogen dioxide and ozone impacts due to Athens airport. Athens Airport is to be relocated from Hellenikon, which is within the Athens basin to Sparta, which is outside the Athens basin.... "Athens currently suffers from regular exceedences of their nitrogen dioxide guidelines." "Air quality within the Athens basin would be improved as a result of the airport relocation." [So why wasn’t this critical information included in the EIS summary or main report, which decision makers would read to base their decision on?]

To quote "EnviroData Version 1.5  - November 1994" - a CD computer file ("One Stop CD Shop") a Dos Program on this CD.

This CD is readily available and often distributed to school children in Australia:

"Air Pollution-Athens." - "In June 1991, 700 people were hospitalized with respiratory problems; on October 1st 1991 SMOG sent hundreds to hospital with heart and breathing problems and the Government banned all private cars and fifty percent of the taxi fleet from the city centre. The ban was re-imposed in January 1992. In October 1992 high levels of carbon monoxide and ozone filled emergency wards with many cases of respiratory distress. Warm weather in January 1993 increased smog levels to the point factories were closed and automobile use banned."

"Between 1961 and 1994 the population of Athens increased 100 percent to 4 million, while the number of cars increased 3,600 percent. Catalytic converters were not required until 1990, and by 1994 were installed on only 30 percent of cars registered in Athens."

- There are remarkable similarities between Athens and Sydney, from its basin environment very similar to our own, similar population numbers, cars converting to cleaner operating systems, and numbers having done so etc etc. Most importantly, it is a basin city with a deadly air pollution problem.

The Sydney MAQs (Metropolitan Air Quality Study) released in 1997 identified that at least 400 SYDNEY people die each year, directly because of problems associated with air pollution. That is more than one person per day!

It clearly and scientifically indicates that the air pollution problem in the Sydney basin/airshed has grown into an extremely serious one. Could our political process be stupid enough to repeat the serious mistakes made by the other ‘basin’ cities such as Athens? We would hope not, after all we try to promote ourselves to the rest of the world as a ‘clever country’.

There are a number of outside Sydney basin cities and communities who have begged for the airport in their own region, Newcastle, Goulburn and Lithgow among them, there are also sites which out perform the Badgerys site hands down, which are outside the basin as well.

The Sydney community call for an airport outside the Sydney basin a perfectly viable call, and indeed our political leaders would show us to be seriously remiss in intelligence if we were to duplicate the Athens mistake, given the extremely serious costs in human, environmental and economic terms that Athens, and other basin cities such as Los Angeles, have been forced to pay because of their air quality problems. ("Health costs related to air quality are higher in California than in all other 49 States combined." - Envirodata version 1.5)

- This is a clear lesson to Sydney, and yet we choose to ignore the lesson. Athens has been forced to move it’s airport outside it’s basin because of air pollution - we are considering to repeat their deadly mistake, and build another airport within our already shockingly polluted basin environment.

Do we have a suicide wish?



Peter Cork

Chairman; FRAAN