Thursday, 5 July 2012

Cambridge MP Warns On Airport Expansion Calling For Better Transport Links


MP Julian Huppert told Parliament yesterday (Wednesday, July 4) that there was no need for new runways at any of London’s three major airports, Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow.

He highlighted the benefits of aviation, as well as the environmental harms, including noise pollution and carbon emissions.

He said the carbon emissions cap for the aviation industry, set by the Independent Committee on Climate Change, should be the basis of policy development.

“Based on increased plane loads, new technology and fuel improvements, this would allow for about a 60 per cent increase on current passenger numbers to around 368 million passengers per annum,” he said during a debate on Aviation Competitiveness in the UK in Westminster Hall.

“We figure out what carbon we can allow for, and we work from there,” he said. “Anything else would fly in the face of the independent scientific advice the Government has received. Policy makers ignore such advice at their peril.

“On current trends, we could reach this cap with the capacity we have by about 2030. Let’s be clear, we would get there without any new runways. Those fighting for an expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted have an uphill battle.

“For that reason, my party opposes the expansion of airports in the South-East. Not only do we have capacity to play with, but if we were to build more and use it all, we would do irreparable damage to our global environment.”

He said that up to half of all emissions from aviation are caused by people travelling to and from the airports rather than from the planes themselves.

And he said that the UK needs to get the greatest economic benefit out of the airport capacity that it has, taking into account regional demand, local noise, air and surface access and the overall carbon emissions cap.

“Over a fifth of Gatwick’s available capacity is still free, and they’ve booked new flights to new airports,” he added. “Stansted is only half full, and when I spoke to them, they called for an improved rail service rather than discussion of a new runway.

“Birmingham is looking to expand and Manchester already has two runways. We need to improve over-ground public transport links to allow these airports to compete, and reduce their environmental impact.

“The evidence is that unmitigated expansion would be a disaster. The debate has been extremely confused and often ill-informed over recent years. The number of special interests is vast. But it’s incumbent on the Government to stand firm and follow the evidence.”