16 Sep 2008

More support to stop Glos Airport expansion plans

Last night I met a Gloucestershire Friends of theEarth Coordinator in Cheltenham - and one of the topics was Staverton Airport. Things have been quiet on this but look set to warm up again as folk return from holidays and all. Below I've copied my press release today after the Sustainable Development Commission have called for a halt to Airport expansions.

Photo: Sent this evening on a Transition Stroud email list

In reading my post from while I was away I note that our Glos Constabulary are providing extra coverage for the new Manx2 flights out of Staverton. I wonder what cost this is to the taxpayer - another subsidy to aviation - and how much will the planned additional flights cost? Will this impact on Glos policing?

Campaigners welcome watchdog calls for airport expansion to be put on hold

Gloucestershire Airport Action Group (GAAG) has strongly welcomed a repeated call today for decisions on major airport expansion to be put on hold until there has been a full independent review of the Government's 2003 Air Transport White Paper.

GAAG spokesperson Philip Booth, commented: “The Government is becoming ever more isolated in clinging to the airport expansion plans set down in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper. Locally we see that both Gloucestershire and Bristol airports have expansion plans and have both failed to recognise the new realities required to move to a low carbon economy. Climate change is a global issue that urgently requires local, regional and national as well as global solutions.”

Philip Booth, who is also a Stroud District councillor: "The Government’s own environmental watchdog, the Sustainable Development Commission's report should also mean a reassessment of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) - the most influential planning document for the South West. The Government of the South West have so far ignored key evidence from bodies like Stroud District Council and Friends of the Earth who assert that airport growth is not compatible with tackling climate change. Indeed on Thursday night Stroud District Council will be voting on a response to the latest draft of the RSS and we look set to again to express concern about the negative impacts of airport growth."

The recommendation to put airport decisions on hold has been made the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) in a study entitled "Contested Evidence: The case for an independent review of aviation policy.” This follows up on its May 2008 Report "Breaking the Holding Pattern" and puts the Government under increased pressure to review its plans for airport expansion around the country. It concludes: "The context itself has changed markedly since the 2003 Air Transport White Paper was produced. Climate change science has advanced significantly, and the Stern Review has framed the debate on the economic case for early action...The Climate Change Act will set carbon budgets... If the 2050 target is increased to a reduction of 80% compared to 1990 levels then, on the basis of those projections, aviation would account for over 70% of UK emissions...The economic downturn and soaring fuel prices have hit the number of business and leisure flights, and public attitudes to flying are more ambivalent..."

The report’s authors believe that the risks of decisions in favour of expansion outweigh the possible benefits as long as the outcomes of political decisions on climate change remain uncertain and while there is controversy between different stakeholder groups.

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