Western Sydney Airport Bulk Earthworks - Design - ISCouncil

Western Sydney Airport Bulk Earthworks – Design

Project Details

  • Project Owner: Western Sydney Airport Company
  • Rating Type: Design
  • Location: NSW
  • Assessor Name: Rosie Dutton
  • IS Project manager: Michelle Damasio
  • Stakeholders: Aurecon / Arcadis JV ,CPB Acciona Joint Venture


To be awarded an [‘excellent’] IS rating is an exceptional achievement and testament to the hard work and dedication of the Western Sydney Airport Bulk Earthworks team. Western Sydney Airport is building an airport for Western Sydney’s future which is why we are focussed on sustainability and minimising the impact of the airport on the environment. Sustainable design, energy efficiency and circular economy principles are key considerations as we design the airport. A culture of sustainability has been embedded on the project since the beginning and has enabled a balanced and innovative approach to delivering this iconic project.

Project Overview

Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport is on track to open in late 2026 and is already serving as the catalyst for the creation of a new era of jobs and opportunities across Western Sydney. As Sydney's new airport, Western Sydney International (WSI) will bring together the latest technology, clever design and outstanding customer service to set a new benchmark for air travel in Australia. The airport will grow in stages to eventually become one of Australia's biggest gateways to the world. Major Earthworks construction of Western Sydney International involves moving around 25 million cubic metres of earth over the 1,780 hectare site to support the construction of the airport including the runway and terminal.

The design responsibilities include:

  • Preliminary design for major earthworks and trunk drainage for the whole site
  • Full design for the master grading for all surfaces and interim stage of development to the Airport
  • Full design for the construction, testing and commissioning of the work

Construction scope includes:

  • Vegetation clearance
  • Decontamination
  • Heritage salvage
  • Demolition of existing structures
  • Construction of temporary site facilities
  • Major earthworks, including the installation of erosion and sediment controls
  • Installation of permanent and temporary drainage
  • Interface management and handover of completed earthworks portions


Project Details:

Western Sydney Airport Major Earthworks project has achieved an Excellent Design Rating under the ISC framework. The project was commended for its performance in multiple categories including stakeholder engagement, conservation of potable water and innovation. This is an exceptional achievement and testament to the hard work and dedication of the whole project team.

Key Achievements:

  • During this submission the project diverted 3,467.1 tonnes of material from landfill, achieving a 96% diversion rate. The Major Earthworks Project also looked to donate material where possible, including:
    • 400 tonnes of asphalt donated to Luddenham Show Society to be used for resurfacing roads and pavements
    • One tonne of eucalyptus tree foliage donated to Taronga Zoo to provide feed for Koalas.
  • The project achieved 99.47% replacement of potable water through the development and implementation of a construction water strategy.
  • Effective management of water quality, air quality, noise and vibration impacts from the project resulted in no divergences from the management processes or specific goal criteria.
  • Exemplar performance across all stakeholder participation credits (verified at highest possible level in round 1 submission).
  • A world first innovation on the 825H Drum Compactor increasing the technological capability of the machine, improved design grade efficacy and removed the need for a grader to work in tandem to achieve more accurate design grades on material.
  • Achievement of innovation across workforce credits 1 & 2, demonstrated through a detailed skills analysis, the implementation a three-phase recruitment strategy to address skill shortages and the provision of training and upskilling opportunities guided by a detailed training and skills matrix. An example of this is the project’s Trainee Operator Program which successfully upskilled 59 workers during the design phase of the IS submission.
  • Installation of sustainable site facilities that met the requirements of the RCLG checklist (where practicable) and reduced waste generated during demobilisation by sourcing a prefabricated site facility used on a previous Lendlease project.
  • The Major Earthworks project prioritised the use of sustainable suppliers, as well as products and services listed on the ISupply directory. The importance of engaging with sustainable suppliers and fostering innovation was embedded in the procurement processes. Major Earthworks utilised four products of services listed on the ISupply directory during the Design phase of the IS submission.

Rating Highlights:

Innovation – Compactor Auto Grade Control

The WSA Early Earthworks Workshop Foreman led the development of a new compaction process, retrofitting two forms of 3D technology to improve the safety, construction efficiency and environmental footprint of compaction. The adaptation of this technology makes the compactor the first in the world to diverge from standard industry compactor use. In this non-BAU scenario, the compactor grades material to within +/- 20mm of design grade (+/-30mm more precise than BAU), avoiding the need for a grader to follow and gaining greater precision in material level. By avoiding the use of a grader, social (safety through plant minimisation), environmental (fuel reduction), economic (cost reduction) and quality (greater precision in material level) benefits are achieved. The Major Earthworks project has had one retrofitted compactor in operation throughout construction.

Total of 8.71 innovation points awarded in Design including a world first innovation - Compactor Auto Grade Control. 99.47% potable water replacement. Prioritised diversion of waste materials from landfill and sought out opportunities to donate material where possible to the local community. Exemplar performance across all stakeholder participation credits.

Figure 2- Retrofitted compactor with auto grade control

Potable Water Replacement

Through careful planning and the development of a construction water strategy the construction team achieved 99.47% replacement of potable water with non-potable. This involved utilising temporary and permanent drainage structures to capture rainfall which could then be used for dust suppression and other construction processes. Key basins were selected based on location and accessibility to have standpipes with smart meter attachments installed to provide a trackable fill point for water carts.

Figure 3- Watercart applying non-potable water for dust suppression

Community Benefits:

Asphalt Donation 

The project donated 400 tonnes of asphalt, collected from the original Badgerys Creek road, to Luddenham Show Society to assist with the resurfacing of the showground’s roadways and pavements.

Figure 4 – Members of the WSA Community Engagement team pictured with Wayne Wilmington (centre) President of the Luddenham Show Society after accepting the asphalt donation to the show grounds.

Western Sydney Airport Major Earthworks Donates Koala Feed to Taronga Zoo

The WSA Major Earthworks team partnered up with Taronga Zoo to provide fresh feed for their koalas after feed stocks were depleted and the species was greatly impacted by severe bushfires which devastated Australia in 2020. More than 11 million hectares of bush, forest and parks across Australia were burned. Taronga Zoo took into its care 12 bushfire koalas from an affected plantation in Richmond NSW. WSA Major Earthworks team provided approximately one tonne of much needed feed for the affected koalas.

Figure 5 – Koala at Taronga Zoo enjoying the feed provided by WSA Major Earthworks team

Figure 6 – Major Earthworks provided harvested feed to Taronga Zoo representatives

Community Open Day

On Sunday the 18th of April 2021 the project held a Community Open Day at the Major Earthworks site compound to provide local community members an opportunity to:

  • Learn more about operations and see some of the machinery up close (including plant training simulations)
  • Understand some of the key sustainability practices implemented on the project such as water management and heritage salvage work
  • Learn about the rich Aboriginal heritage of the region and sample some traditional bush tucker
  • The day was a huge success with 401 people in attendance

Participants are seen during the Western Sydney Airport Community day at Western Sydney Airport, in Badgery's Creek, Sydney, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (PR Image/Sam Mooy for WSA) NO ARCHIVING

Figure 7 – Plant training simulator at the Community Open Day 2021

Figure 8 – Community Open Day 2021

Cleanforce Return and Earn Scheme

The project’s cleaning subcontractor “Cleanforce” manage waste separation on site and transport all cans and bottles eligible to be recycled at return and earn collection recycling facilities. Cleanforce is a social enterprise set up to support local and disadvantaged employees. They have blended workforce with approximately 50% of employees diagnosed with a disability or disadvantage. To date 4750 cans and bottles have been collected amounting to a donation of $756, a portion of this donation has gone towards supporting the employment and training of new staff.


It is acknowledged that this achievement has been the result of multiple stakeholder input including:

  • Foundations built by Western Sydney Airport, and support provided towards the rating during project development and delivery.
  • The collaboration and input from all teams on the Major Earthworks Project including project management, design, procurement, workforce, community, environment, engineering, and the site crews.
  • Support provided by parent company business unit personnel, CPB Contractors and Acciona.
  • The guidance and advice provided by the project’s Independent Sustainability Professional and consultants.
  • The development of innovative technology by the workshop team on the CPBLLJV Early Earthworks project and the support provided by their Senior Leadership Team.

Project Website:


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