We are taking action to protect Antarctica from Australia’s environmentally devastating airport proposal.

 

The Australian Government and the Australian Antarctic Division are planning to build Antarctica's most damaging infrastructure project — a giant concrete airport. It will be built on critical ice free habitat in the Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica.

If this industrial airport is built, it will cause irreversible harm to the unique ecology of Antarctica. It will set a dangerous precedent for future destructive developments and it will cost billions of dollars of public money.

Antarctica is already facing unprecedented pressure from climate change impacts. Australia’s coal and gas industries are generating dirty pollution and further fuelling the climate crisis. This is melting ancient glaciers, playing havoc with ocean currents and, if left unchecked, will irreversibly damage all life in Antarctica and the great Southern Ocean. 

We have time to protect Antarctica, but we need to act now.

 

 

Australia has long viewed itself as an environmental leader in Antarctica. 

It is even part of Australia's 20-year action plan to "minimise the environmental impact of Australia's activities" in the Antarctic.

The airport is the exact opposite of this goal.

 

 

The airport will:

🐧 Require more than three million cubic metres of earthworks - explosively levelling 60 vertical metres of hills and valleys along the length of the runway, causing massive dust emissions on the windiest continent in the world.

🐧Cause significant disturbance to nearby Weddell Seal breeding colonies with unknown or poorly understood ramifications.

🐧 Cause significant impacts on nearby Adelie Penguin colonies with eight breeding areas near the airport listed as important bird areas.

🐧 Increase all of humanities impacts on the continent by a colossal 40%

🐧 Cause irreparable damage to adjacent lakes.

🐧 Require incredible logistics to get materials and construction workers on site. Not only will this displace scientists, it will all require massive use of fossil fuels and energy and incur astronomical costs.

 

We believe in the power of people and community. Call on the Australian Antarctic Division and the Australian Government to abandon plans to build this monstrous concrete airport in the Antarctic and instead focus on protecting Antarctica, not destroying it.

 

 

Download the factsheet by clicking the image above. 

 

 


Showing 14 reactions

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  • Patrick Deprez
    commented 2021-05-14 07:48:11 +1000
    The proposed permanent runway will have detrimental adverse environmental impact on this rare ice free part of Antarctica. It must not go ahead.
  • Paddy Wray-Smith
    commented 2021-05-02 18:24:43 +1000
    DON’T RISK IT!
  • Harald Stecher
    commented 2021-04-09 02:50:31 +1000
    Stoppt den Bau des Flughafens!
  • Jakob Morgenbesser
    commented 2021-03-27 05:17:48 +1100
    Stoppt den Bau des Projektes und lässt die Robben, Pinguine und Riesensturmvögel leben. Kids from Austria
  • Clivia Steinberger
    commented 2021-03-21 00:01:54 +1100
    Stop destroying Antarctica! Hands off!!!! Greetings from Austria!
  • Manya Ghahremani
    commented 2021-03-19 03:31:33 +1100
    Hands off Antarctica.
    Use that money to fight the climate crisis – we urgently need an energy, mobility and agricultural transition. We need to transform our consumption and production patterns. Ultimately, we need a system change. What we don’t need: a runway in Antarctica.
  • Nadja Heymann
    followed this page 2021-03-13 01:11:02 +1100
  • Nadine Bonsin
    commented 2021-03-08 09:33:41 +1100
    Only for money. Not for science, but for tourisme and more natural resources (and more money) is the maine reason for such an irrational project. The reason of the AAD to have a better way for collecting ecological datas is a bit threadbare.

    Hopefully this stupidy can be stopped!

    Best Regards from Germany (we are also curious what will happen; Environment is a good of all of us)
  • Klaus Svoboda
    commented 2021-03-08 02:45:05 +1100
    Unbelievable. I though, goverments slowly start to realize, it is impportant to protect the environment (after … say 100 years?) and now such a plan?
    I really hope, it will not be allowed
  • Klaus Svoboda
    followed this page 2021-03-08 02:39:18 +1100
  • Geoff Dannock
    commented 2021-02-08 09:43:04 +1100
    Hobart Mercury 16 January 2021

    A concrete runway in Antarctica risks massive damage and is likely to be obsolete if ever finished
    THERE is growing national and international concern about the Australian government’s proposed construction of a concrete runway in the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica.
    The project’s final environmental assessment will soon be released for comment and is the most recent of many studies into the construction of a runway in the area. Previous studies by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) found construction of a runway in the region could not be justified on cost or environmental grounds.
    Runway construction is to be concurrent with the modernisation of the Davis Station by 2050.
    Modernisation need not require a runway of Hobart Airport proportions to achieve its goals.
    By 2050 technology will negate the need for scientists to personally make real time observations. The AAD already uses robotic data collection and in 30 years that capability is likely to be far greater than anything that can be achieved by relying on what will then be ageing aircraft types, unreliable weather, and the personal attendance of scientists. Runway funds should be directed to remote data collection research by Tasmania’s tertiary institutions.
    Scientists should be aware of the long-term constraints on their Antarctic research with the diversion of shipping, accommodation and other resources to the construction of a new station and runway, and the 250 involved personnel.
    The government maintains the claim that Antarctica is “valued, protected and understood”. Dumping more than 115,000 tons of irretrievable concrete on levelled Vestfold Hills demonstrates the lack of veracity of that claim. AAD staff are unable to make negative public comment, while selected public servants and minister can present the project’s few questionable benefits whenever opportunities arise.
    The same minister will have authority to approve the project, irrespective of the findings of the environmental assessment. The project’s Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis remain secure and unseen under the minister’s lock and key.
    If the self-proclaimed Antarctic environmental protector takes such action in disregard of Specially Protected Area where threatened Giant Petrels nest, then the future of other species and other rare habitat types in Antarctica are at risk. International publications already recognise that construction will represent a dangerous precedent. Consulted Antarctic nations may comment but are not able to veto the project.
    The government relies on the claim that the project will observe the highest standards of Antarctic environmental protection. In practice, there are few standards and those that are met will not significantly reduce the impact. Most standards are in the form of recommendations, guidelines or in the “where practicable” category.
    The AAD has blemishes in meeting environmental aviation standards involving large fixed-wing aircraft. It also acknowledges an expected inability to comply with Antarctic Treaty standards that were based upon smaller aircraft than it plans to use. Australia’s own research indicates that the Treaty’s standards are already inadequate. In short, the proponent will be unable meet an environmental aviation standard which it acknowledges is too low.
    The continuing presence of flies at Casey, the existing remains of past activity and landfills, its record of fuel spills and the extended time it took to treat Davis’s sewage is evidence that the proponent has ignored its environmental obligations.
    It is difficult to accept that the protection of the environment is now a priority and that the organisation is suddenly positioned and willing to up its game.
    Tasmanian industry has an obligation to consider more than profit when advocating support for the project. Tasmania’s future Antarctic links and credibility lay with Australia’s best scientific and environmental interests in the Antarctic, not the worst.
    Those familiar with Hobart’s Eastern Shore might understand the impact of levelling hills, some approaching Rosny Hill proportions, in a largely pristine and unique environment.
    If completed, the first flight is not scheduled before 2040. Those who sit in Hobart’s traffic gridlocks until then or wait for funding of more significant projects will have about 20 years to wonder why some of its billions could not have been spent on solving local challenges. My hope is that the project will disappear into the same black hole that hides the Macquarie Island Station rebuilding project, announced in October 2016, and not publicly heard of since. It was due for completion in 2022. If insufficient funding or underestimation of the cost has been the cause of that project’s demise or delay, it serves as an omen for the runway project. My fear is that the government will renege on its funding commitments before 2040 and walk away from the destruction and uncompleted runway. Ministers Ley, Frydenberg and others will of course be free from accountability and unavailable for comment by then. It is time for Minister Ley to show leadership and respect for Antarctica and acknowledge that the project is impractical and environmentally outrageous.
  • Geoff Dannock
    commented 2021-02-08 08:53:58 +1100
    Hobart Mercury 16 Nov 2018

    THE Australian Government and Australian Antarctic Division have announced an intention to construct a paved runway on rock near Australia’s Davis base in Antarctica. While environmental concerns are still valid, we should also focus on the operational and financial elements of the proposal.
    The project deserves public consideration and rigorous parliamentary scrutiny. Are the costs and risks worth the potential benefits, and is Australia capable of completing it?
    The Government says we need the runway to be able to quickly transfer scientists to and from Antarctica. We already do that using our ice runway at Wilkins near Casey. It hopes the availability of year-round flights will enable more research to be conducted. Many of our Antarctic scientists have retired in frustration at funding cuts or had their programs axed by the same government that now hopes to encourage them. We have already accessed more than 3500 Antarctic sites, without a paved runway. We will visit many more.
    The runway may offer faster access to Davis when weather permits, but it might not offer much else. Much of our ability to do world class scientific research beyond Davis will depend on what infrastructure future governments are prepared to guarantee. Winter aviation to unsupported sites in the interior of the continent is impractical given the weather, darkness and extreme temperatures, leaving winter inland access reliant on surface transport.
    Ask anyone outside the Government who knows, and you will be told that the real reason for the runway is a fear of increased foreign activity on our Antarctic doorstep and the implication for any future territorial claims.
    National activities don’t constitute support or denial of any claim under the Antarctic Treaty. Many nations have signed, ratified or acceded to the Treaty. In theory, strategic discouragement of another nation’s activity is territorially worthless. In practice, it will promote a continental degradation competition.
    The 2700m Davis runway will handle year-round flights by large commercial aircraft. Aircraft which meet that description and have the operating range require a paved surface 45m wide and a minimum concrete depth of 25-30cm. The standard weight of concrete is about 2.4 tonnes per cubic metre. Do the sums and you’ll find it will require over 80,000 tonnes of concrete, a paved area of about 150,000sq m and levelling of about 400,000sq m to provide the runway, aircraft parking area, runway shoulders, roads, fuel depots, passenger facilities and storage.
    The Davis runway will have lighting and navigation aids; essential for large commercial aircraft operating in the darkness of an Antarctic winter. Such installations may not cope well with the -40C temperatures and blizzards that Davis experiences.
    China intends to construct a 1500m runway on ice, about 17km from its base and those of India, Romania and Russia. All were potential clients of Australia’s runway about 100km away. The Chinese runway will initially cater for intra-continental flights but may be extended to cater for intercontinental flights.
    If built, the Davis runway will be marginally closer to Perth than it is to Hobart. Perth is also the natural transit point for Asian, Indian and European aircraft flying to the Davis or Chinese runways.
    A business case for the Davis runway will pass through the Cabinet shroud of secrecy. That will remove the risk and cost benefit analyses, operational and financial details from public scrutiny.
    In February the AAD director told a Parliamentary Committee that the AAD was about to lodge an Initial Business Case for the project. The Department of Finance template for an Initial Business Case requires capital and whole of life costing, cost of alternatives and a cost-benefit analysis. Costing information was not available at the May or October Senate Estimates Committee hearings. My estimated cost of the construction of the Davis runway based on the location, terrain, weather constraints, construction method, time frame, infrastructure, shipping and labour costs is in the region of $800 million to $1 billion, or more. This figure doesn’t include ongoing operating costs.
    At the same February meeting the director said: “There are over 3300 assets on our registry and almost half of them now are beyond their normal asset life.” To add and maintain another asset of the Davis runway’s complexity is beyond the AAD’s current capacity. In September when preparations were made for the renewal of the ice runway at Wilkins near Casey, it was found that essential machinery was inoperable. The RAAF flew aC17A on a 10 hour 7000km flight to airdrop 600kg of spare parts to Casey so that machinery repairs could be made. While that may have been an innovative solution, a cheaper option was to have spare parts on site for machinery that was essential for air access. RAAF support may not always be available. AAD asset management needs guaranteed lifelong funding without depletion of science funds. If not, then the runway should not be built.
    A Senate report recently highlighted the need for (but absence of) ground support including power carts, aircraft towing and de-icing equipment, airfield lighting and instrument approach aids at Wilkins runway.
    The proposal is an exercise requiring imagination, but that imagery should not end with the potential benefits. It should extend to critical scenarios and their management. Consider the consequences of a large commercial aircraft of B777, B767 or A330 becoming unserviceable at the Davis runway. Those events aren’t rare even on Australian domestic routes. In November 2014 a Brazilian C130 was grounded on King George Island, Antarctica. Repairs commenced in March 2015 but in 2017 it was decided to scrap the aircraft. It was broken up on site and shipped back to Brazil in containers.
    An incident at Davis involving a large commercial aircraft could result in passenger injuries beyond the treatment capacity of Davis medical resources. The most frequent incidents leading to injury or death of multiple personnel in the Antarctic have been aircraft-related.
    The project deserves public interest and rigorous parliamentary scrutiny.
  • Gen Arter-Luen
    commented 2020-12-18 19:27:10 +1100
    Stop the stupidity in Antarctica. Destroying pristine conditions. All for money. You self centered humans. Leave the area the way it is. You runway will destroy the entire area.
    I cannot believe anyone would think this is a great idea.
    What next, a bloody resort I suppose.
    Morons
    Genevieve Arter Luen
  • Jeanne Vanderkooij
    commented 2020-12-10 15:24:13 +1100
    How do they get there is it by boat and helicopter?