Joining forces to oppose airport expansion

LondonMeetingPhotoRedhill Green Councillor Jonathan Essex shared the stage with representatives from local campaign groups and Green Party activists at a public meeting in London on Saturday (12 September). The meeting brought together experts and campaign groups who oppose airport expansion in the South East.

Jonathan, said: “Instead of the false choice between expanding Heathrow or Gatwick, we must show leadership on climate change and build no new runways. We can’t make a fair contribution to keeping global warming within safe limits if we increase flying.

“Airport expansion is not just irresponsible in terms of the climate, it also has unacceptable local impacts – including on noise, air quality and the local environment.”

Brendon Sewill, Chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign said: “A decision to go ahead with a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would be a serious set-back for climate change policy. The cost would be paid by future generations.”

Sian Berry, Green Party candidate for the London mayoral election said:

“Bigger airports make no climate sense. How can the Prime Minister convince delegates at the Paris climate talks he’s serious if he goes there while wanting a new runway?

“The Greens are the only party with the clear message that we need no new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or anywhere in the UK. It’s our job to convince the government to end this false choice debate, trying to pit communities against each other over which airport to expand and who should suffer the increased pollution and noise that would result.”

A positive agenda for transport

This autumn, the Government will decide whether to build a new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow. The Green Party and partners are urging the government not to do this and instead to:

  • Create a level playing field on aviation tax: Currently aviation fuel is not taxed, which means that the UK (and other countries) incentivise the most climate-damaging form of travel. A level playing field would make it as attractive in cost terms to travel by train to Europe or to UK internal destinations as on short-haul flights.
  • Introduce a frequent flyer levy to reduce demand(currently 70% of all flights are taken by just 15% of people).
  • Invest in improving public transport in the UKand ground and sea links to Europe so they are easy, safe and comfortable to use. Removing the need for extra roads and rail to serve an expanded airport will free up resources to invest in the whole transport network and prioritize improving services.

The meeting took place at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. Other speakers included: Christine Taylor (Stop Heathrow Expansion); John Stewart (HACAN); Leo Murray (A Free Ride); Asad Rehman (Friends of the Earth), Prof Alice Bows-Larkin (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester); Dr Doug Parr (Greenpeace) and Keith Taylor (Green MEP for South East England).

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