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Airports rethink must follow climate report

December 10, 2009 5:48 PM

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report setting new limits on aviation growth (published 9th December) will force ministers to redraw airport expansion policies across the UK.

The 2M Group of councils opposed to Heathrow expansion said the 2003 air transport white paper on which the third runway proposal was based was now hopelessly out of date. The CCC said growth between now and 2050 should be capped at 60 per cent - not the 200 % projected by the Government. This was necessary if aviation emissions were to be contained at their 2005 levels. The report says other sectors of the economy must reduce emissions by 90 per cent if aviation is to be allowed to grow.

It finds that even with an increased carbon price, high speed rail alternatives and greater use of video-conferencing, additional policies would be needed to constrain demand growth to 60 %.

Leader of Richmond Council, Cllr Serge Lourie, speaking on behalf of 2M said: "This report marks the end of any credible plans for expanding Heathrow. By limiting passenger growth to 60 per cent it means a third runway can only go ahead if every other airport in the UK is prevented from expanding. It also makes the 2003 Airports White Paper, on which the third runway proposal was based, now hopelessly out of date. Heathrow is not the only airport in the country. Others want to expand - the white paper also identified Edinburgh and Stansted for growth while the new owners at Gatwick will now find they are stuck with a single runway. This is another blow to the government's misguided attempts to force expansion through. On Monday, we saw the Commons Transport Select Committee making a decision when only three MPS voted in favour of expansion. The Government must now spell out, once and for all, the expansion policies for the whole of the UK. It would be disingenuous to do otherwise."

The 2M group also welcomed the CCC's finding that high speed rail could provide a substitute for domestic and short haul flights to Europe. This could result in a 10 per cent aviation demand reduction by 2050. 2M has identified 159 flights from Heathrow for which high speed rail could offer a viable alternative within a four-hour threshold. This would include the key European destinations of Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. This is equivalent to just over 24 per cent of current Heathrow flights

A judicial review of the Government's Heathrow decision will be heard in the High Court from 23-25 February. The case is being brought by a coalition of local councils, environmental bodies, residents groups and is supported by the Mayor of London. They are arguing that the consultation was flawed and that the decision was irrational because its basis, the Government's 2003 aviation policy, is out of date and completely at odds with the Government's climate change policy. The case is backed by Hounslow, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor and Maidenhead, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea councils and the Mayor of London.

The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of 24 local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities. The group represents more than five million people. The full 2M membership comprises the London Boroughs of Brent, Camden, Ealing, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Sutton, Southwark and Wandsworth, plus the boroughs of Reading, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wycombe and South Bucks District Council.

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