Reframing Health in Urban Airport Regions
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University of New South Wales Australia
University of New South Wales
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A802
Background and Objectives:
The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated awareness of the role of airports in public health. However, the influence of airports on health goes beyond the spread of infectious diseases. In cities, airports have increasingly complex relationships with transportation networks, economies and industries, built and natural environments and social systems. A new international airport in Sydney, Australia, is being developed alongside an airport-focused city plan, creating the opportunity to interrogate the considerations given to determinants of health within urban airport planning.

A literature review was conducted to identify research, policies and programs of urban airport development relevant to health and health-adjacent planning approaches such as green infrastructure, sustainability, liveability and wellbeing. A content analysis of strategic planning documents for the Western Sydney Airport region was then conducted, identifying the presence and framing of these concepts at a local, regional and state level.

There is a growing global trend towards airport policies and programs that, at a strategic level, align with the Sustainable Development Goals, reduce environmental impacts and promote urban integration. Many of these programs adopt health-adjacent goals. Health-explicit approaches primarily focus on environmental protection and pollution management. These findings are reflected in the Western Sydney Airport regional planning documents. However, the strategic plans of the near-airport area have a reduced presence of the health promoting planning priorities of the greater region and an increased focus on the airport-specific planning requirements.

More consideration needs to be given to the broader public health implications of the airport. This includes problems such as disruptions to local transportation, presence of community spaces and the equitable distribution of economic benefit. Centralising a comprehensive focus on public health creates an opportunity to develop solutions to the conflict between urban airports and communities.

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