17 Sep 2010

Staverton Airport: more madness from councillors!

Here is my letter to the Echo/Citizen earlier this week....

Pic by Banksy

I read with astonishment that Gloucester City and Cheltenham Borough Councils are each putting up £350,000 for Gloucestershire Airport to borrow. What on earth are our councillors doing at this time when frontline services to some of the most vulnerable members of our community are so threatened?

If the Council's invested that money in renewables they could expect as much as a 10 to 12% return over 20 years. That would help reduce reliance on energy imports, cut CO2 emissions, support local jobs and could help tackle fuel poverty. Yet here we are investing in business travel at a time when the industry is in dire straights and looking set to get worse with forecast fuel price rises. Indeed it looks like only the wealthy jet owners will benefit from this absurd investment.

Last year Staverton airport made a loss of 120K. Additionally the airport has still not completed the purchase of Blenheim House. Increased costs and the project re-phasing are said to impact on returns for shareholders reducing the anticipated dividends. Those of us campaigning against the airport's expansion have long pointed to the inadequacies of the Airport's business plan. It seems already cracks are starting to show.

The aviation lobby have long insisted that the economic benefits of expanding airports exceed the environmental and social costs. The High Court recently ruled over Heathrows' planned expansion that the government's decision hadn't properly taken into consideration climate change policy or the economic case. It is time our Council's reviewed their decision: to use tax payers money in this way, at this time, makes no sense.

Cllr Philip Booth

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