4 Mar 2009

Heathrow expansion: hypocrisy or ignorance?

David Drew MP's comment piece 'Block this Highway to Hell' on Heathrow prompted a letter from BAA. Here is my letter to the SNJ in response:

BAA write to defend the indefensible expansion of Heathrow airport (SNJ 25/02/09). It is quite extraordinary that our Government has given BAA the green light for the greatest expansion of aviation in a generation. Where are their pledges to cut greenhouse gases? This is either the most shameless hypocrisy, or the most unforgivable ignorance and stupidity.

I welcome that David Drew was amongst the 28 Labour MPs who rebelled against the Government's decision to expand, and am appalled that Tory MPs, while rejecting Heathrow's expansion refuse, to rule out expanding other airports.

BAA make reassuring noises about the environment but who is really fooled? They plan massive increases in CO2 emissions when we need cuts, the destruction of local communities and increased road traffic, air pollution and noise. Breaches in air quality standards are predicted along with increases in serious health problems.

BAA say that expansion is crucial to the economy, but the contribution that aviation makes is frequently overstated. Eighteen million passengers merely use it to transfer to another international flight. That figure is planned to double by 2030. Furthermore the aviation industry is subsidised to the tune of £10bn in the UK alone. This includes various tax breaks, no pay for the damages of the noise and pollution it causes, no tax on aviation fuel and it is zero-rated for VAT.

Passenger numbers are falling and longer term oil prices are forecast to rocket. Supporting airport's to expand whether at Heathrow, Bristol or locally in Gloucestershire, makes no sense economically or environmentally. Our competitiveness will come from creating a sustainable economy in the future, not relying on subsidised dirty, dinosaur-like industries.

Cllr. Philip Booth, Stroud District Green Party.

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