Government must walk the talk on climate change and reduce, not expand, flights

TGatwick-X-sky-smallhe government announced last night that it will expand runway capacity in south east England, while putting off the difficult decision of whether the new runway will be at Heathrow or Gatwick.

To make this announce-ment while ‘talking the talk’ with world leaders, gathered in Paris to finalise a global agreement on climate change is simply irresponsible.

While our government gives the impression of backing an ambitious climate deal in Paris – where over 100 countries have been pushing for strengthening the limits we place on global warming – it continues to ignore the part it plays in the problem. As well as undermining renewable energy at home, it is pushing forward with investments in new roads, forcing through fracking, and now planning another runway – all of which will increase carbon emissions.

Cllr Jonathan Essex, who represents Redhill East, close to Gatwick Airport, said,

“Instead of putting off the decision and prolonging the stress for people living around Gatwick and Heathrow, the government must match its rhetoric at the climate talks with leadership on climate change, by building a sustainable economy at home.”

“The government must now start to take responsibility for aviation’s climate impact and commit to manage down demand for aviation, for example through a reformed airport tax to curb the growth of air freight and frequent flyers (see Note 1). This will remove the need for additional runway capacity at Heathrow or Gatwick.

“Instead this decision signals that the government still plans to ignore what makes climate sense and push forward with expanding aviation in the south east.

“A new runway will increase flights, which will increase carbon emissions and air pollution. There is no way to square this circle.

Expanding either airport will also increase pressure for even more housing and industrial sites in Surrey and the south east, while the regional inequality in the UK continues to widen (see Notes
2 and 3).

The Government should bite the bullet and agree that no new runway should be built at Heathrow or Gatwick, and that we should move towards a more sustainable transport future for the sake of the climate and the quality of our lives”.


1. For more details see website:
2. The government’s planning framework called Duty to Cooperate, higher housing targets and speculative schemes such as Surrey County Council’s potential £40 million windfall from building by Gatwick.
3. See$FILE/Rebalancing-EY-UK-region-and-city-economic-forecast.pdf

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