London Councils opposes Heathrow expansionFebruary 11, 2008 at 7:00 am | Posted in Adding capacity, Aviation, Climate change, Environment, Heathrow, Heathrow airport, Heathrow expansion, High-speed rail, Transport | Leave a comment
The consultation contains no assessment of the impact of the carbon emissions from the additional 222,000 flights a year the new runway will generate. These extra flights would result in around 180 billion tonnes of CO2 over 60 years.
Yes, this government is, in effect, proposing significant increases in greenhouse gas emissions after world-class scientists have spent decades studying climate change and have told us that emissions of such gases need to be reduced drastically as soon as possible. What on Earth are decision-makers at the Department of Transport smoking?
Government plans to expand Heathrow are environmentally unfriendly, ignore alternatives to air travel and could make the airport an even greater terrorist target says London Councils.
London Councils, which represents all of the capital’s local authorities, is not against airport expansion if absolutely necessary but is opposed to the expansion of Heathrow. It has reiterated its view in its response to the government’s consultation on the proposed third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow.
In its submission, London Councils raises concerns about the ability of the local public transport system to cope with the 35 million people a year that are predicted to use the new terminal. It also questions the validity of the consultation process with the government already publicly supporting the need to expand Heathrow.
Among the issues raised by London Councils in its response are that:
- insufficient consideration has been given to using high speed rail links to reduce the demand for domestic and short haul flights. The number of flights from Heathrow could be cut by around 100,000 a year if there were no flights to and from destinations with a good rail alternative.
- the main thrust of the plan to expand Heathrow is to support businesses, however nearly 80 per cent of the flights taken from airports in the London area are taken by people going on holiday. These are often using budget airlines which can operate from regional airports. Also around 30 per cent of the people flying into Heathrow are also transferring to connecting flights and therefore bringing no economic benefit to London.
- the government’s support for expanding Heathrow contradicts its objective to reduce carbon emissions. The consultation contains no assessment of the impact of the carbon emissions from the additional 222,000 flights a year the new runway will generate. These extra flights would result in around 180 billion tonnes of CO2 over 60 years.
- the consultation fails to provide information on how the government is working to reduce the noise of aircraft, especially at night.
- no decision should be made on the expansion of Heathrow until an independent assessment of how the local transport network will need to be improved. This should be carried out with local authorities, Transport for London and Network Rail.
- the government must consider if it is sensible to continue to expand Heathrow in the current security climate, and also for the safety of residents living near the airport. Following the terrorist attacks in America and London, and the recent emergency landing of an aircraft at Heathrow itself, careful thought needs to be given to increasing the number of flights across the capital.
Chairman of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, Cllr Daniel Moylan, said:
“At best this consultation is pointless because the government has already said they are in favour of expansion. At worst it is loaded because it is clearly seeking to make people believe expanding Heathrow is the only option.
“However the arguments against expanding Heathrow far outweigh any that could be made in favour of the scheme. Hundreds of people will lose their homes and thousands more will have their lives blighted by noise and air pollution.
“We want to help people travel across the country and internationally, but this should not be at the environment’s expense. The government appears to have disregarded the possibility of reducing the need for people to take short flights by working to develop high speed train links.
“There are so many unanswered questions about this project. The government must heed the growing concerns and do the right thing and scrap plans to expand Heathrow.”
Research published in 2006 by HACAN Clear Skies suggested that the number of flights using Heathrow could be cut by around 100,000 a year if there were no flights to and from destinations where there is already a good rail alternative.