On 16 December 2009 the National Aviation Policy White Paper “Flight Path to the Future” (White Paper) was released. The White Paper outlined more than 130 policy initiatives including an initiative to “further increase the transparency of airport development” by requiring airports to “notify the community of building applications by publishing them on the airport website”. The Airports (Building Control) Regulations 1996 (Cth) (Regulations) have now been amended to give effect to this White Paper initiative. It is important that airport-lessee companies incorporate these amendments into their procedural guidelines to ensure ongoing compliance with the amended Regulations.

The Regulations provide for the approval of building activities and other works at leased federal airports. With effect from 27 March 2010, the approvals process provided in the Regulations was amended by the Airports (Building Control) Amendment Regulations 2010 (No. 1) 2010 No. 51 (Cth) (Amendment Regulations). According to the explanatory statement, the objective of the Amendment Regulations was to "create greater transparency in the approvals process for carrying out building activity on an airport site…".

The Amending Regulations inserted new regulation 2.04A (Publication of details of applications) and regulation 2.04B (Publication of decisions on applications) to oblige airport-lessee companies to publish certain information on their websites, within five business days of an application for approval to carry out building activity being made (if the applicant is the airport-lessee company) or within five business days after the day the airport-lessee company receives the application (if the applicant is not the airport-lessee company). The amendments also require airport-lessee companies to publish details as to whether or not such applications have been approved.

New regulation 2.04A provides that if a person applies under regulation 2.02 for a building approval for an airport site, then the airport-lessee company for the airport site must publish the following information on the airport’s website:

  1. the name of the person making the application;
  2. if the applicant is the airport-lessee company – the date on which the company submitted the application to the airport building controller;
  3. if the applicant is not the airport-lessee company – the date on which the company received the application;
  4. a description of the proposed building activity covered by the application; and
  5. the location of the building activity on the airport site.

New regulation 2.04B provides that the airport-lessee company must update the information required under new regulation 2.04A with information about whether or not the application has been consented to by the airport-lessee company and/or approved by the airport building controller and/or withdrawn, within 5 business days of such an event occurring. According to the Explanatory Statement, the Amendment Regulations are not intended to limit the scope or detail of information to be published about building activity by airport-lessee companies.

Consistent with the initiative envisioned by the White Paper, these amendments ensure that members of the public can be reasonably informed as to what building activity is proposed for an airport site, and whether or not the proposed building activity will proceed. These amendments will require airport-lessee companies to ensure that the required information is made available on their website within the prescribed timeframes and may require procedural guidelines to be updated accordingly.