Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Heathrow Airport: Aviation Expansion in UK a National Strategic Issue

I recieved an email an hour ago asking me to respond to Virgin airlines questionaire on Heathrow expansion. This post has details on that survey. I also wrote a short contribution to the heathrow expansion that the govornment are carrying out. You can complete as much or as little of the consultation as you like, i placed this comment in the 'aditional comments' section at the end.


It is all very well framing a consultation in a local manner if that consultation is for local needs and has local impacts. Heathrow is broadly opposed by residents and is often talked about in terms of Britain's economic competitiveness. Heathrow's expansion rests on national strategic issues and this is an area that i would like to comment on. Since the Aviation White Paper was released a series of reports by the environmental audit commission, SDC, AEF, IPPR and others have broadly condemned the strategy. Not, it must be noted, based on their collective views on what government policy should be but rather based on what the government state to be its policy. Government climate change policy is in direct opposition to it's plans for airport expansion.

Predict and provide is a widely used description for the governments aviation policy; this is not a balance it is a decision to prioritise putative economic gains over environmental outcomes, such equations seem antiquated, to put it mildly, in a post-Stern Review political climate. I believe that this discordance is widely recognised in government. The key point i wish to highlight is that we can't magic away this problem by invoking the EU ETS. People will make various arguments for this, from local concerns such as traffic and loss of whole communities to considerations of Britain's future carbon budget and how this will be allocated between sectors. As this consultation is tilted towards local consideration I will focus on the latter.

Tyndall Centre Working Paper 84 states the situation well in summary.

"If the aviation industry is allowed to grow at rates even lower than those being experienced today, the EU could see aviation accounting for between 39% and 79% of its total carbon budget by 2050, depending on the stabilisation level chosen. For the UK, the respective figures are between 50% and 100%."

The only way we can get around this is by limiting aviation expansion. The government cannot be serious about climate change and serious about building runways. Tough emissions reductions targets are not achievable in the UK if aviation continues to be subsidised, facilitated and given preferential treatment when all other sectors are expected to contribute significant carbon emissions reductions.

All aviation posts.


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At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for broadening this debate and pointing out, as many do, that the British Government cannot have its cake and eat it.

You are correct: Transport strategy and planning by the DfT directly contradicts the Climate Change Bill. The conflicting approaches cannot coexist, despite Government belief in trading aviation emissions away under the auspices of the EU ETS.

DEFRA are weak (basically silent) on Heathrow expansion, and DfT is all-powerful, so there is no balance between our government departments. Hence, transport policy will override climate policy every step of the way, and at every turn. Unless, of course, we stop it …

Here's my post with sample response to the questionnaire and my four pages of supplementary comment ;-)


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