AEF responds to Airports Commission on forecasting and project ‘sifting’ criteria
AEF has formally responded to the Airport Commission’s paper on passenger forecasting, and to the invitation to comment on the ‘sifting criteria’ that should be used to assess proposals for new airport development.
Our forecasting response (scroll down to download) argues that:
- Airports policy should not be dictated by forecasts of passenger demand, as societal demands for protection from noise and air pollution, and for the UK to play its fair part in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, must be taken into account from the start and are likely to mean that future passenger demand will need to be constrained.
- Passenger demand forecasts, having been revised downwards each time they have been updated since 2000, in any case provide a very much weaker case for airport expansion than has been the case in the past, with expected high levels of passenger demand having failed to materialise.
- Even the latest official forecasts are probably too high, particularly after 2030, as the lack of available input data on oil prices to the Government’s model after that point results in an assumption that oil prices rise steadily in the period to 2030 before flatlining from 2030 to 2050.
Our submission on sifting criteria (also below) makes clear AEF’s view that environmental – and especially climate change – factors suggest that no new airport capacity should be built in the near future. It argued, however, that to the extent that the Commission must assess the feasibility of airport expansion options in the longer term, environmental criteria should be part of the initial sift.
The paper notes that the Heathrow area remains in breach of EU laws on nitrogen dioxide pollution and that any proposal to increase activity in such an area would be sure to face legal challenge. And it argues that with people now affected by aircraft noise at lower levels than was the case in the past, the traditional threshold of 57 Leq for the onset of significant community annoyance is no longer valid and cannot be relied on when assessing the impacts of the various proposals that the Commission will doubtless receive.