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Pause runaway expansion in response to climate emergency

30th October, 2019

The Government must suspend any increase in UK airport capacity until it has developed a climate change plan for aircraft emissions.

The call for an immediate moratorium is set out in a letter to the Secretaries of State for Transport and for Housing, Communities and Local Government signed by the Aviation Environment Federation, the Aviation Communities Forum, and community campaign groups. Many UK airports including Belfast, Bristol, East Midlands, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, London City, Luton, Manston, Newcastle and Stansted currently have growth plans.

There is currently no policy setting out how greenhouse gases from the aviation industry can be reconciled with legislation committing the Government to delivering net zero emissions by 2050. The Government recently announced that its Aviation 2050 strategy, which will address the sector’s noise and climate impacts, will not be published until next year.

Proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by an estimated 200 million passengers per annum, an increase of over 70% compared to the 285 million passengers that passed through UK airports in 2017.

AEF Director Tim Johnson says: 

There is a clear inconsistency between the scale of the expansion being proposed and the recommendation from the Government’s official climate advisers to limit passenger growth to no more than 25% above today’s level to have a realistic chance of meeting the net zero obligation

The Government has indicated that it will be consulting further on aviation and climate change, with a view to publishing a new policy in 2020.

ACF spokesperson Charles Lloyd points out that: 

Until it has done so, planning authorities will not be able to make informed decisions. We need a moratorium to ensure that unsustainable expansion decisions are not taken before the Government’s environmental plans are published. Otherwise we threaten our ability to meet climate change targets and risk increasing noise for communities living under flightpaths.

The full letter can be read here.