An obvious truth for aviation expansion?

The research commissioned from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is the latest in a long line of changing goalposts when it comes to the subject of airport expansion. The Committee, chaired by Lord Adair Turner, was asked to advise on options for reducing emissions below business as usual to meet the target and on the implications for aviation expansion in the 2020′s.

The UK Government has set a target for carbon dioxide emissions from UK aviation, both domestic and international, which requires them to be no higher than 2005 levels in 2050. In ‘Meeting the UK Aviation Target – Options for Reducing Emissions to 2050‘ the CCC identifies that if this target were to be achieved, aviation would account for around 25% of the UK’s total allowed emissions under the economy-wide 80% cut in 2050 relative to 1990 included in the Climate Change Act.

Demand for aviation has grown by 130% over the last 20 years according to the CCC, which projects that it could continue to grow by over 200% from the 2005 level by 2050. However, the CCC reckons that it is only prudent to plan on the basis that technological advances could make a 60% growth in demand compatible with the emissions target. According to the CCC, policy measures required to restrain demand include limits to further airport expansion.

Unremitting airport expansion threatens the natural world directly. We are still fighting to keep safe the 6 ancient woodlands threatened by Stansted.

Stansted's 2nd runway wipes out 6 ancient woodlands

And despite BAA’s pledge this month not to put plans for a third runway forward until after an election, we maintain a watchful eye at Heathrow - where notable and ancient trees at Sipson and Harlington would be threatened. News of Gatwick’s recent sale also means our Woods under Threat team remain on high alert!

The CCC report also raises the spectre that, unless other sectors make disproportionate cuts in emissions and demand for aviation is substantially restrained through limiting airport expansion, there will be severe consequences for climate change.

It’s implicit then that the 2003 Aviation White Paper, which set out the sites proposed for expansion, should be reviewed in light of this Report. While the CCC agree they say their remit is to make recommendations to Government based on different scenarios, it’s up to Government to decide on what action to then take. Reconsidering the AWP would certainly be a start.

What do you think about plans to expand aviation in the UK?  Please share your comments, and pass this on!

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About Kaye Brennan

Senior Campaigner (Policy & Advocacy) for the Woodland Trust and Administrator, 'Woodland Matters' blog
This entry was posted in Aviation, Climate Change, Government Affairs, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to An obvious truth for aviation expansion?

  1. Suzy Davies says:

    First of all I would like to clarify a distinction between airports and airfields. Airports are of course large expanses of shorn grass interspersed by concrete runways and taxiways, having a terminal and frequent arrivals and departures of large commercial aircraft which are generally jet powered. This creates a noisy environment which is poor in ecological variety.

    The airfield however is completely different. Since their use is generally recreational they tend to have their busiest times at weekends, with lighter use during the week perhaps related to a flying school for private pilots. Their layout is a lot smaller than an airport with most airfields consisting of only a grass runway/s. They tend to be located away from densely populated areas. The associated aircraft noise is much lower and because many airfields have tree and hedge boundaries they can be havens for wild flowers, insects, birds and wildlife in general. Because many private pilots do not fly at night, and many airfields are not equipped for night flying, many animals have the run of the airfield at night. Naturally, everything which has been said for the airfield also applies to gliding fields, save that there is even less noise. Only a dedicated tug aircraft will have a piston engine, along with perhaps one or two motor gliders.

    For the reasons highlighted I would encourage support of airfields. Many of them welcome visitors as long as they introduce themselves and follow the health and safety rules to prevent accidents. Recreational pilots and ground staff are generally environmentally aware and proud of their local wildlife. Continued occupation of the sites by recreational pilots ensures that the airfields remain free of detrimental development.

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