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Comment on Liberal Democrat vote on airport expansion

7th October, 2014

The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) welcomed the news that the Liberal Democrats have retained party policy to oppose the building of new runways in the South East, given the environmental consequences of airport expansion.

Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director of the Aviation Environment Federation [1], said: “We are glad that the Lib Dems party membership rejected the misguided amendment to weaken the party’s opposition to airport expansion.

“Despite what Nick Clegg and Ed Davey had claimed, the environmental criteria for airport expansion haven’t changed and any technological ‘fix’ for aviation emissions is light years away [2].

“The Government’s own climate advisors have said [3] that to tackle aviation emissions you need to manage demand, and unless people want massive new aviation taxes, the only realistic way to do that is to restrict airport capacity.

“Any political party serious about delivering the Climate Change Act will – when they look at the evidence – have to accept that expanding airports would blow a huge hole in the UK’s legally binding climate commitments.“

AEF said that building a new runway in the South East would worsen the North/South divide as growth at the regional airports would need to be constrained in order to ensure CO2 emissions from aviation fall to their 2005 levels by 2050. [4]

AEF stated that if aviation emissions were allowed to soar it would impose costs on the rest of the economy rising to between £1 billion and £8.4 billion per year or more by 2050 as non-aviation sectors would need to make even deeper emissions cuts.

Research by AEF also shows that the UK has enough capacity already for aviation growth with the constraints of the UK Climate Change Act. [5]


Notes to editors

[1] Aviation Environment Federation is a UK based NGO working to secure effective regulation of the environmental impacts of aviation

[2] We have just published a briefing which looks into whether a new runway would be compatible with climate commitments and considers policy options available if a future Government decided to build a new runway

[3] CCC Letter to Airports Commission July 2013

[4] Implications of South East expansion for regional airports by the AEF and WWF – report

[5] Available UK airport capacity under a 2050 CO2 target for the aviation sector, research for WWF

For more information:

Contact James Lees on 020 7248 2223/