The Liberal Democrats voted today to reject an amendment to party policy that would have allowed for aviation expansion in the South East. The change had been proposed by Solihull MP Lorely Burt who supports expansion of Birmingham Airport and Stephen Gilbert, who represents St Austell and Newquay, and similarly has a regional airport in his constituency. Senior party members including Nick Clegg and Ed Davey had suggested that they would support the amendment in the hope that technological improvements in aircraft design would negate the carbon impact of a new runway.
But Lib Dem activists at the conference, concerned about the carbon impacts of a new runway, accused the party of supporting big business regardless of the facts or consequences. Several argued that South East airport expansion would come at the expense of regional airports – an argument supported by AEF research arguing that expanding South East airports would require activity at regional airports to be cut to below today’s levels to compensate for the extra carbon emissions associated with a new runway.
— PoliticsHome (@politicshome) October 7, 2014
Please oppose amend 4 at 12:20. Existing policy allows 60% aviation increase; do we really want to break that and put all in the SE? #ldconf
— Julian Huppert (@julianhuppert) October 7, 2014
In contrast to what Ed Davey had claimed earlier in the day, the environmental evidence in relation to airport expansion hasn’t changed and the idea of zero carbon flight is – unfortunately – light years away.
The joint policy proposals document which AEF coordinated sets out a full list of criteria, including on climate change, noise and air pollution, that should apply to any consideration of airport expansion. Environmental NGOs collectively oppose expansion unless all these criteria can be met.
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Image credit: BBC News