The South East Green Party has called for a halt to any further plans for airport expansion until the Government has pursued a full assessment of the economic and climate impacts of doing so(1).
These calls come in in response to an Environmental Audit Committee inquiry(2) into the implications of a third runway at Heathrow for the Government’s commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise.
This Parliamentary term, MPs are expected to vote on whether airport expansion should take place at Heathrow or Gatwick. However, the Greens assert that so far, no serious proposals have been put forward to show how the Government could meet its carbon emissions targets were a new runway to be built. Likewise, no feasible measures have been outlined to ensure that expansion would not further hinder the UK’s ability to reduce air pollution, which is crucial, given that the Government is already facing legal action for its failure to reduce pollution(3)
In its response, the South East Green Party put forward three key recommendations:
Firstly, the Government must undertake a full assessment of the relationship between aviation’s climate and wider economic impacts, before drafting legislation or making a decision on expansion.
Secondly, the EAC should consider the alternative ways in which aviation demand can be met. This includes creating a level playing field on aviation tax, as currently the aviation industry enjoys subsidies that other sectors are not entitled to.
Finally, the Government should not make any decision on aviation expansion, until a binding commitment to a sufficient cap on carbon emissions of international aviation and shipping has been reached.
1) Failure to fully assess the potential economic and climate impact of aviation expansion is documented in the Aviation and Environment Federation’s recent report: http://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/All-set-for-take-off-AEF-report.pdf
2) Details of the Environmental Audit Inquiry: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/the-airports-commission-report-carbon-emissions-air-quality-and-noise-inquiry/