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Coalition statement confirms position on runways and taxes

21st May, 2010

The Conservatives and LibDems published ‘the Coalition: our programme for government’ on 20th May. We report on what they say about aviation.

There are no significant additions to what was said in the interim statement. The direct statements on aviation are:

*  We will cancel the third runway at Heathrow.

*  We will refuse permission for additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted

* We will replace Air Passenger Duty with a per-flight duty.

It is interesting that these aviation commitments are given under the ‘energy and climate’ section of the statement.  This is encouraging in that the coalition recognises the force of the climate argument AEF and others have been putting.

But it is concerning that other impacts of aviation – noise air pollution, blight, congestion and destruction of communities – are not recognised as issues.  Indeed, they are barely mentioned in the document at all.

Since we know that noise annoyance from aircraft is increasing, we want the new government to recognise the need to protect communities already badly affected by airports, as promised by opposition parties prior to the election.

All that is said on air pollution is a statement “We will work towards full compliance with European Air Quality standards”, which commits to no specific action or to success.

The transport section, which does not mention aviation, says “We need to make the transport sector greener and more sustainable, with tougher emission standards and support for new transport technologies.” Does this apply to aviation, we wonder?

Also in the transport section, high speed rail is mentioned: “We will establish a high speed rail network as part of our programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy. Our vision is of a truly national high speed rail network for the whole of Britain. Given financial constraints, we will have to achieve this in phases.”

The rail network is important because it was used pre-election by the Conservatives  as a justification for scrapping the 3rd runway at Heathrow. If the network is delayed because of financial constraints as the statement suggests, does that leave Heathrow expansion to creep back onto the agenda?

Full statement (BBC web site)