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Airports policy, the economics of expansion, and addressing international aviation emissions

25th June, 2010

AEF was pleased to be invited, during the past fortnight, to act as the environmental representative on a 12-member task force to discuss South East airports. The group will be chaired by the new aviation minister Theresa Villiers and will focus on making London, Gatwick and Stansted “better, not bigger”. Tim also met, independently of the group, with Theresa Villiers, to outline AEF’s current priorities in terms of noise and climate issues.

While the government is considering what kind of national aviation policies will be needed alongside the commitment to oppose new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted, AEF organised a seminar on 15th June to discuss the wider implications of a recent report from the New Economics Foundation on the impact of Heathrow expansion. It found that up-to-date forecasts for economic growth rates and oil prices together with careful assessment of environmental costs suggested that building a third runway at Heathrow would have generated a net loss to the UK economy of £5 billion. We have also been assessing current airport capacities in the UK, as part of a project looking at ways of meeting the target to stabilise UK aviation emissions at 2005 levels by 2050.

And looking beyond the UK, Tim attended the second meeting of a group brought together by the President of the UN’s specialist aviation organisation (ICAO) to consider how to address greenhouse gas emissions from the sector. The group, comprising 19 Director-generals from states with particular interests in international aviation, met to consider the draft of a Resolution to be put before the ICAO Assembly in October. AEF was the only environmental observer at the meeting.