19 Nov 2009

Councils must not invest taxpayers money in Airport growth

The more I thought about the nonsense going on over Staverton Airport the more I felt the urge to write - here is the letter I sent earlier this week:

The Citizen/Echo report that Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City Councils, who each own a 50 per cent stake in Staverton Airport, will make a decision on 14th December and 7th January on whether to borrow £2.4 million to fund runway improvement plans. The lack of scrutiny about these plans to attract more corporate jet-setters is shocking.

A toothless "Green Management Plan" was introduced last year to appease campaigners that the airport would limit CO2 emissions. However it appears to have been dropped, as it conflicts with this latest plan to increase flights. These Councils are setting an appalling example to residents and businesses, by using taxpayers money to support increases in CO2 emissions when they should be cutting them by more than 80%.

However it gets worse. The economic arguments for expansion also just don't add up. Indeed the Government's own advisors, the Sustainable Development Commission, earlier this year called into question the economic benefits of aviation in terms of wealth creation and called for a review on policies of expanding airports.

News this month that world oil reserves have been seriously overestimated is an indication that we will be facing significant fuel price rises. This will encourage more companies to shift away from flights to more responsible alternatives.
It also cannot be long before the public are not prepared to subsidise aviation anymore.

Already '"bizjet" aviation, which includes a high proportion of celebrity and leisure flights, is exempt from fuel tax. Aviation is also exempt from protection against noise nuisance claims and a whole host of other subsidies like paying for the radio spectrum which mobile phone, Emergency services and others all have to pay.

Yes, borrow £2.4 million, but invest it in renewables and energy saving measures: the return in terms of social, economic and environmental benefits will be significantly greater than anything wished for by this airport plan.

Cllr. Philip Booth (Green party),
Stroud District councillor for the Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward


(i) Tewkesbury Borough Council, which has planning jurisdiction on the site, in September approved the extension despite huge opposition and policy statements noting that aircraft emissions are material to planning applications.

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...