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'A real bad precedent': Australia criticised for Antarctica airport plan

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'A real bad precedent': Australia criticised for Antarctica airport plan

Old 1st Jan 2021, 14:07
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'A real bad precedent': Australia criticised for Antarctica airport plan

Saw this article in The Guardian on 31st Dec:
Australia is planning to build Antarctica’s biggest infrastructure project: a new airport and runway that would increase the human footprint in the world’s greatest wilderness by an estimated 40%.

The mega-scheme is likely to involve blasting petrel rookeries, disturbing penguin colonies and encasing a stretch of the wilderness in more than 115,000 tonnes of concrete.

The government in Canberra says the project on the Vestfold Hills of Princess Elizabeth Land is necessary to provide year-round access for scientists and emergency teams to Davis research station, Australia’s most southerly base in Antarctica. Strategic concerns are also a consideration; Australia is keen to counter China’s growing presence on the frozen southern continent.

Environmental scientists say the multi-billion-dollar plan is a waste of money, and could lead to a destructive construction race among territorial rivals.
The Guardian 31st Dec 2020
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 14:22
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How large would a project have to be to be Antarctica's largest? My house would probably be number #2 in the whole continent. And that’s not including the helipad or sub pens.

115k tonnes of concrete sounds impressive, but that’s an infinitesimal amount in the grand scheme of things. In even the plebian scheme of things it’s a mere bagatelle.

Doesn't “The Guardian” have enough to do with Brexit and Covid?
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 14:39
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The problem is the precedent. Its like being a little bit pregnant. Its very concievable that once this was in place, the Chinese would want one, then the Americans, etc. etc.
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 14:45
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And so what? Even if all the major powers wanted in, its far less than the size of a suburban mall in an entire continent..
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 14:56
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AAHHH.... The Guardian says it - so it must be right.....
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 16:42
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Originally Posted by Ex FSO GRIFFO View Post
AAHHH.... The Guardian says it - so it must be right.....
Actually, the Australian Government are saying it - https://www.antarctica.gov.au/antarc...t-the-project/ - the Guardian is reporting it, which is what newspapers do...
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 17:35
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The difference between what the Aus government is saying and the guardians opinion of it, is quite large .
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 18:16
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Originally Posted by SARF View Post
The difference between what the Aus government is saying and the guardians opinion of it, is quite large
Indeed, there's a lot that the Aus government doesn't mention in its press release.

This isn't just an 'aerodrome' - it's gong to be big enough to be called an airport, capable of taking 787 and A330. It'll need not only ATC and rescue and fire fighting services, but all the ancillary services not mentioned: infrastructure maintenance (runways, manoevring areas, buildings, roads), vehicle maintenance, baggage handling, and so on and so on. All the staff will need accommodation, and that accommodation has to be served and maintained, and that's more vehicles and staff - there's going to be a small town.

It's claimed that the place is to "deliver scientists and equipment to Antarctica", but for that task you surely don't need large airliners that can carry 250 passengers. No: even if science is the initial purpose, as soon as there's a facility like this in place there'll be pressure from the tourism industry, which the government won't be able to resist, especially as tourism will bring lots of income to the airport. Davis is likely to evolve into a mass-tourism base, with a passenger terminal and a hotel, and lots more vehicles to take hundreds of tourists out to pollute the surrounding landscape, harass the wildlife and impede the scientists. Even more staff, bigger town ... And, of course, there must be VIP facilities for Australian politicos and such. It's not only a real bad precedent, it's a bad thing in itself.

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Old 1st Jan 2021, 18:28
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On a continent which is bigger than Europe, bigger than Australia.
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 18:59
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FFS just leave somewhere in the world untouched. What a stupid idea.

thankfully, being Australian, by the time all the bureaucrats and shonksters have figured out how much they all want to skim off the top, and various ‘leaders’ use it as a political leverage one way or another, it will be 30 years before a shovel hits the ground.

*further reading shows one of the key decision makers is on the board of Sydney Airport....surprise surprise
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 21:08
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Do we know what the Chinese already have there? They seem very adept at making/creating islands in The South China Sea and quickly establishing military air bases!
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 21:17
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Bearing in mind the purpose of the Davis research station, this seems rather counterproductive.
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 21:24
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It’s not an airport, it’s a ‘mega-scheme’. Habitats will be ‘blasted away’ etc etc

I don’t know what the truth of it is, but I know what the Guardian wants me to think.
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 21:25
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A total waste of money whilst there’s real and growing issues back in the real Australia where people live. As stated in the article there’s only 20 people there in winter and resupply issues haven’t been a problem since the program was started in the 50’s, so why now? It’s more about this government trying to believe they’re a major power and dominate other parts of the world as if our pissant little country has any influence.
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Old 1st Jan 2021, 22:03
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Sad reality is Antarctica will be exploited regardless of how much we don't want it to happen. Australia has a very large area to protect and we do not have the resources to do it. At the moment if another nation wants to move in, there is very very little we can do about it.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/craigho...ar-gets-hyped/

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics...arctic/611674/

As an Australian, I'm more worried about the fishing port that's going to be built on the northern coast of Torres Strait.
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Old 2nd Jan 2021, 01:41
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Originally Posted by PAXboy View Post
Saw this article in The Guardian on 31st Dec:

The Guardian 31st Dec 2020

If you're from the UK I'd say mind your own business. Concentrate on how not to manage CV19....
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Old 2nd Jan 2021, 01:55
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Australia needs to move post haste in this.
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Old 2nd Jan 2021, 04:32
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Aye Aye Mr 'y', And here I was thinking that the 'Straits' had been commercially 'fished out' for some years now......

So, I wonder what else those pesky Chinese might be up to..???

A bit 'shallow' for a sub base ??
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Old 2nd Jan 2021, 05:04
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Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
As stated in the article there’s only 20 people there in winter ...
What The Guardian fails to mention is that Davis is set up to accommodate 120-odd scientists, researchers and support staff. They have to pare those numbers back to a skeleton maintenance staff of just 20 in winter because of the lack of decent medevac capabilities and re-supply constraints.

Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
... and resupply issues haven’t been a problem since the program was started in the 50’s, so why now?
As stated in the article the ice runway at Wilkins (a BNE-CNS sort of trip from Davis with nothing much by way of en route alternates) is becoming less usable due to increasing surface instability.

What the article doesn't state is that the Australian Antarctic Division isn't just looking to build the runway for the hell of it. They are looking to completely upgrade Davis such that it can be used for science all year round. If you've seen any pictures of Davis in its current state it looks a bit like a small town's light industrial district with none of the usual rural charm. The base currently consists of a rag-tag collection of some 20-odd different structures of various vintages. The development project will replace those with 9 structures (6 habitat/science structures and three maintenance/utilities/storage buildings) that will allow up to 150 personnel to work in relative comfort and safety all year round.
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Old 2nd Jan 2021, 07:27
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Davis.... the ‘Riviera of the South' 😀

Mick - there are actually 37 buildings at the Station, and they are registered on the Register of the National Estate...... back in 1999 or 2000 i think.

Three are identified as having exceptional cultural significance, and another four as having considerable cultural significance. Not sure if this may impact their removal or refurb or rebuild... happy if someone has more info on that.

But if you look at the upgrades that happened at Casey as a result of the Wilkins Runway/Airlink project then the infrastructure proposed for the Vestfold Hill aerodrome will certainly do wonders for Davis.

As for tourism.... I doubt this will happen. The aerodrome, like Wilkins, is managed and maintained by the AAD. A plane load of tourists would only be permitted to land in an emergency.... the AADs vessels an aircraft do not, nor are they equipped for nor would accept fare paying tourists.

The expansion of all Stations an Bases, not just Australian, is pretty important given the increasing need for the number of projects an scope of some of the important work being done down there and how that science impacts across the globe.....
meteorology for example. Global warming is another example that has generated renewed interest in the study of the polar regions.

NASA is doing research
in Antarctica to support human spaceflight that could shed light on the role that vitamin D potentially plays in the immune system’s response to viruses.... including Covid.

Australia is a highly respected leader when it comes to the Antarctic. We support other Nations, just as they support us.... as seen over Christmas with China and the US joining to assist the medevac of an Australian expeditioner.

This aerodrome isnt just for Australia... it will assist more than the Nations that have bases in Australian Antarctic Territory (remember that
the Larsemann Hills are around 120km southwest of Davis station and they are home to the Indian base Bharati, the Chinese base Zhongshan, and the Russian bases Progress 1, 2 and 3), it will bring jobs to Tasmania, and increase cooperation between Nations. In Antarctica.... there are no politics ... just people doing important science.

Anyone know where Stay is at the moment?

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