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Tangled Wings: Living with a runway on my doorstep (2020 edition)

August 27, 2020

‘Why is Gatwick one of the few major airports in the world with only one runway?’ asks Brendon Sewill in Tangled Wings: Living with a Runway on my Doorstep. The answer, he argues, lies partly in it being built in a place where it could not be expanded without substantial environmental damage, and partly in the determination of the local residents who have run a series of campaigns, to prevent that from happening.  

Online book (free to download) 

The first edition of Tangled Wings told the story of Gatwick from grass runways in the 1930s to the 2010 election when the Coalition Government ruled out any new runway. But in 2013 the Gatwick residents faced yet another runway threat. This new online edition brings the story up-to-date with a description of the 2013-16 runway campaign.

Brendon Sewill, who led the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign said:

This was a story that needed to be told. This time we were up against a massive international hedge-fund prepared to spend almost unlimited money, while we were armed with nothing more than fierce determination, rational arguments and a sense of humour.

Brendon is not only concerned with local issues. His long experience of aviation economics (from which AEF has benefitted over the years, having published a number of briefings written by Brendon on this topic) leads him to argue that the absence of any tax on aviation fuel presents a serious gap in efforts to tackle climate change. While at present all attention is concentrated on the impact of COVID-19, Brendon notes, the aviation industry still hopes to return to unlimited growth – despite its large and growing impact on emissions.  

‘The simple way to deal with this,’ he writes, ‘is to tax aviation fuel. Most people find it hard to believe that there is absolutely no tax on aircraft fuel. But action has got to be taken by all countries acting together. And the best time to achieve that will be at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow in November 2021’.  

Supplementing the author’s engaging account of his decades of campaigning against Gatwick expansion, this new edition of ‘Tangled Wings’ sets out the case clearly and concisely for an internationally agreed tax on aviation fuel, starting at a low level while the industry recovers from the present setback but increasing to put a top limit on future growth. ‘If the world does not agree to tax aviation fuel it cannot be serious about climate change’ Brendon argues. 

You can access and download Tangled Wings here.