30 Jun 2008

BBC provide free advertising of Airport expansion plans?

The Telegraph recently had an article about the terror possibility posed by 'small airports' and their seemingly lax security. Some might argue that is yet another argument for closing Staverton airport rather than expanding - especially because of the proximity of GCHQ. Anyhow I don't want to go there as there are enough reasons why this Airport should not expand....in this blog entry I want to cover the BBCs recent apparent bias but first the recent questions to Cheltenham Borough....

Representatives of FoE and Cheltenham Green party have continued to ask public questions in Cheltenham on the Airport issue. It is good to have confirmed by them that the price of aviation fuels is now around 40% higher than the figures used by Mott for their financial modeling. This at the very least should be grounds for a relook, especially when coupled with all the news about big carriers losing passengers and shutting down routes because high prices have reduced demand. They also asked about the so-called Green policy of the Airport. Some progress seems to have been made but the details are still not there.

BBC Glos on the airport

BBC Glos Radio have run a series of interviews with Gloucestershire Airport each day of the week - yet strangely didn't seek a voice from the many people who are opposed to the airport's expansion plans. Is the BBC providing free advertising for the airport?

When asked about this they say they report on all aspects of the stories regarding Gloucestershire Airport including the political splits regarding the airport's plans and that they covered anti airport expansion protests / viewpoints. They asked for views for future coverage - a little late after a week of how good the Airport will be for the community....below is one campaigner's response to try and get equal airtime....

Though I have not caught all the reports that you did last week, it certainly does seem that you have been used by the airport to push their message "that they are only concerned about safety and not about expansion," with very little challenge from those opposed. As you are probably aware, the airport is having a major publicity push at the moment to convince as wide an audience as possible of their position, and the reports that you have done have undoubtedly formed part of this push. At the Guildhall meeting last week the airport management gave a polished presentation, but which demonstrated their willingness to distort the truth whenever necessary to make their point. Typical claims that they made where:- They claimed again the expansion is all about safety. This is clearly nonsense. The expansion will cost £3million. The airport's annual turnover is £3million. The only way that they can recover the costs is if they massively increase the number of flights. These will have to be increased far higher then they claimed in the initial business case submitted to Tewkesbury Council. An analysis of their business case suggests that with a 7% cost of capital, it will take 25 years to break even. This is such a weak business case that it would be negligence on the council's behalf to give it financial support. They claimed that independent consultants supported the proposals. This is rubbish. Cheltenham's consultants supported the proposals, because they are airport consultants and their remit was basically to develop the business case. Gloucester consultants rejected the proposals out right because they were asked to look at the robustness of the business case. Furthermore, one of the reasons why Gloucester Scrutiny committee also rejected the proposals was because no proper consideration was made of the climate change impact. This is an historic decision and a brave decision by Gloucester Council. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that an airport proposal has been explicitly rejected on these grounds. Not surprisingly the airport management did not mention this point either in their presentation. They claimed that the private jets using the airport are business critical. Again, total rubbish. Many of the flights are leisure flights for the super rich. Further more, most companies are aiming to reduce the amount of flying that they do as they become more and more concerned by global warming and the cost of flying. They claimed that increasing oil prices would not impact their business. Again total rubbish. If this is true they would be the only airport in the world not be hit. This is totally improbable.

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