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Lib Dems call for end to airport expansion around Surrey

October 8, 2012 2:23 PM

Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council are calling on the Conservative administration to back them in opposing any expansion of airports that have an impact on Surrey residents and the Surrey environment.

Liberal Democrat county councillor Ian Beardsmore said: "Heathrow and Gatwick can't expand without having a massive effect on many Surrey residents and the Surrey environment. We need to state in no uncertain terms that Surrey says no to expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick airports. In addition, while the debate rages on about Boris Island, we need to make it clear that expanding other airports that impact on Surrey, such as Biggin Hill, Redhill and Farnborough, is out of the question.

"Spelthorne's Conservative MP has already shown how out of touch the Tories in Surrey are, by calling for parts of Spelthorne to be bulldozed for another runway.

"I am calling on all county councillors to reject his plans and back our call for no further flights over Surrey from Heathrow, Gatwick or any other airports."

Councillor Ian Beardsmore is proposing the following motion to Surrey County Council on 16 October:

This council opposes any proposals to build additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick airports or increase air traffic at other airports in and around Surrey, such as Farnborough and Biggin Hill, as this would damage Surrey's environment and adversely impact on Surrey's residents.

Council agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Transport to express its view that while being pro economic growth the Surrey environment must be protected and alternatives to airport expansion in the South East must be found.



Ian Beardsmore
Sunbury Common and Ashford Common
Telephone: 01932 782031
Mobile: 07791 581701

On 23 September, the Liberal Democrat Party Conference passed the following motion:

Conference believes that:

i. The aviation industry is an important driver of jobs and growth in our globalised economy.

ii. Aviation helps to connect people who live in different countries, and promotes internationalism.

iii. Aviation has the potential to become one of the greatest threats to the global environment.

iv. Unmitigated expansion of aviation would cause the UK to miss its carbon reduction targets.

v. Aviation has a very negative impact on the health and well being of individuals living near UK airports, particularly in terms of noise pollution and air quality.

vi. Without significant technological development, air travel will become too expensive for the majority of people due to the rising cost of fuel.

vii. The Government should support and promote efforts by the aviation industry to reduce its environmental impact.

viii. Aviation policy in the UK has lacked a clear strategy for how we can mitigate its impact on the environment and on local residents.

ix. Successive Governments have failed to find a means by which we can support this industry, while mitigating its impact on UK residents and the global environment.

Conference therefore welcomes:

I. The Government's decision, in line with our manifesto, to cancel Labour's third runway at Heathrow and to oppose new runways at Gatwick and Stansted.

II. The publication of the Government's Draft Aviation Policy Strategy.

III. The Government's continued support for the European Emissions Trading Scheme.

Conference however notes that:

A. The independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommended that, in order for the UK to meet its target of 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, aviation emissions of CO2 should not exceed 2005 levels in 2050 (37.5MtCO2 a year); for this to be possible, air traffic movements should not be allowed to expand more than 60% beyond current levels.

B. Up to half of airport emissions are caused by surface access to airports.

C. Heathrow is an extremely badly located airport, with half of all those in Europe affected by aircraft noise living under the Heathrow flight path - we strongly oppose the third runway, and are disappointed that the Labour party do not have a clear policy against it.

D. London is the best-connected city in the world, with seven runways operating at six airports.

E. A Thames Estuary airport would be extremely expensive; catastrophic for local wildlife; a dangerous investment due to the location of the SS Richard Montgomery; liable to bird-strike; and poorly located for those living outside London and the South-East.

F. Aviation policy has to date focused on London and the South-East; it is clear that 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.

G. 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 years to come; however, we recognise 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.

H. The Government has announced an independent Commission to identify 'options for maintaining this country's status as an international hub for aviation', and welcomes the commitment from the Government 'to take full account of the social, environmental and other impacts of any expansion in airport capacity'.

Conference therefore calls for:

1. Rejection of new runways at Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick.

2. Rejection of all plans to build an airport in the Thames Estuary

3. Rejection of mixed-mode at Heathrow, and end night flights between 23.00 and 06.00 except for emergencies.

4. Rejection of expansion of airport capacity which would allow for aircraft movements above the cap set by the CCC, or which would allow for a net increase in the number of runways which serve the UK; we would introduce an overall emissions cap for the industry for 2050 in line with the CCC recommendations.

5. UK Aviation policy to be based on five key principles:

a. Accessibility from North and South.

b. Growth within UK carbon budgets.

c. Minimal impact to local population.

d. Minimal impact to the local environment.

e. Maximum hubbing potential.

6. The UK to make best use of existing capacity through:

a. Movement of point-to-point flights which do not serve our hub capability from Heathrow to other airports; this would be done through a re-negotiation of EU slot allocation rules and the introduction of slot auctioning - failing that, we support the introduction of a departure tax at Heathrow to shift less profitable non-hub flights.

b. An end to cross-subsidy of lower landing fees at Heathrow.

c. The introduction of a Per-Plane-Duty (PPD) in place of APD to incentivise fully-loaded planes; in the mean time, we support a revenue neutral shift in APD rates to discourage short-haul flights, which can be made on land, and to encourage long-haul hubbing - APD and PPD rates should be based on distance to airports, not to capital cities.

d. Use of existing capacity and improved transport links at Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh - the priority should be better use of capacity at Gatwick, which has already shown the ability to access emerging markets across Asia through new point-to-point routes.

7. Greening of the aviation industry through:

a. New noise limits in population centres at certain times to incentivise quieter planes.

b. Tough requirements for low emission surface access to UK airports, and for airport operators to use low emission vehicles on site.

c. Support for the Emissions Trading Scheme at the EU level to promote the polluter pays principle.

8. The Commission's report and the response to it to be based on the five key principles set out in 4 above, and to include:

a. A strategy for removing excess capacity above the CCC cap outside of the new hub airport should one be identified.

b. No net increase in the number of runways which serve the South-East of England.

c. Greater recognition of the need to serve North and South than previous governments have shown.

d. Significantly lower noise impact than currently exists at Heathrow.

e. Proposals for low carbon public transport access to any new hub airport, should one be identified.