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Liberal Democrats say no to new runways at London airports

August 15, 2012 3:41 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The strategy, which will be put to members at the party's Autumn Conference in a policy motion, reinforces the Liberal Democrats' opposition to new runways at London's airports. Key proposals include:

  • Pushing for better use of existing capacity in the South-East and at regional airports to meet short to medium-term demand
  • Firmly rejecting Boris Johnson's Thames Estuary airport
  • No new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted
  • An independent, evidence-based study to find a location for a hub airport or a suitable airport to expand into a hub for the long-term
  • No airport capacity expansion which could allow for aircraft movements above the carbon emissions cap set by the independent Committee on Climate Change

The Liberal Democrats want UK aviation policy to be based on five key principles: accessibility from north and south; growth within UK carbon budgets; minimal impact on the local population; minimal impact on the global environment and maximum 'hub airport' potential.

The policy is being led by Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport, Julian Huppert.

Commenting, Julian Huppert said:

"Liberal Democrats have always opposed a new runway at Heathrow because it is in an appallingly bad location, with a quarter of all those in Europe affected by aircraft noise living under the Heathrow flight path.

"In the same vein, mixed-mode and night flights would cause unacceptable noise levels and air pollution for thousands of Londoners. You can't have one of the world's noisiest and busiest airports in the heart of West London's suburbs.

"Aviation policy has focused on London and the South East and it is clear that is where the greatest demand lies; but airports and foreign travel for business or leisure must be easily accessible for citizens living across the UK. And noise and air quality impacts have to be minimised.

"With Birmingham looking to expand, Stansted only half full and Gatwick expanding into emerging markets, regional airports and other airports within London can meet demand for the short to medium term. Especially if we provide them with the transport links they so desperately need.

"We recognise, however, that a single, hub airport - rather than a constrained Heathrow with multiple satellite airports - would be better for the environment and better for the economy in the long term. Even three runways at Heathrow would only be a medium term solution.

"Aviation has the potential to become one of the greatest threats to the global environment. Unmitigated expansion of aviation would cause the UK to miss its carbon reduction targets.

"Successive governments have failed to come up with a clear strategy which supports the aviation industry while mitigating its impact on the environment and local residents.

"Now they're in opposition, the Labour Party policy is a blank sheet of paper. They are neither for nor against a third runway at Heathrow. While most Conservatives, with a few notable exceptions, are wavering in the face of big business.

"Enough is enough. The public deserve an airport policy which balances the benefits from aviation with the harms it can do to the environment globally and locally. That is exactly what we'll deliver."