A second international airport will be constructed in Sydney at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion (£1.4 billion), it was announced today.
The new facility will be located at Badgerys Creek, about 45km west of the Australian city’s central business district.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who revealed the news at a press conference in Canberra this morning, said construction is scheduled to begin in 2016.
The move is designed to take pressure off Sydney Airport, which has “first right of refusal to build and operate the [new] airport”, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
Debate surrounding the building of a second airport in Sydney dates back to 1946 and has seen 20 sites up for consideration at one point of another.
Mr Abbott said: “It’s a long, overdue decision which, to be honest, has been shirked and squibbed by successive governments for far too long.
“I also want to stress that the government’s approach will be roads first, airport second, because we don’t want the people of western Sydney to have an airport without having the decent transport infrastructure that western Sydney deserves.”
National airline Qantas welcomed the announcement.
CEO Alan Joyce said: “Qantas has long supported the building of a second airport at Badgerys Creek, as have a number of detailed studies. After decades of debate, we applaud today’s announcement by the prime minister.
“The role of second airports has been well-established in several of the world’s major capitals. Sydney is the key gateway for air traffic in-and-out of Australia and the benefits of having two major airports will be felt nationwide.
“Airports are key pieces of infrastructure that facilitate a huge amount of economic activity, and they take a lot of time to plan and build. We look forward to being part of this process as Badgerys Creek moves closer to reality.”