30 June 2016
The Green Party claims the case for airport expansion in the South East is built on sand and should now come crashing down following the decision to leave the EU.
Today the Transport Secretary announced to the Commons that the decision on a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick will bedelayed until at least October. In response, the Green Party is reiterating its call for all plans for new runways to be scrapped. The Airports Commission, the body tasked with advising the Government on the decision on expansion, had previously recommended that expansion go ahead in the South East, citing the apparent economic benefits to the region.
Here in East London, one of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s first moves after being elected was to withdraw Boris Johnson’s objection to London City Airport buying the public land it needs to expand. The £300 million project, featuring a bigger terminal and new aircraft taxi lane, would allow a 40 per cent increase in flights. And at Stansted, with a target of handling 35 million passengers a year (current total number of passengers 23.3 million in the 12 months ending May 2016), it’s highly likely that new expansion plans will be made public in the near future.
The Green Party argues that, in the light of the current uncertain economic forecast following the decision to leave the EU, the economic case must be dismissed. Airlines have already reported the impacts of the economic instability with many facing significant share devaluation since Friday’s result. Shares in International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, have plunged by one-third since June 24th. And shares in popular low-cost holiday carrier easyJet - which serves Stansted (its 5th largest UK base) and Southend - have crashed just as dramatically.
Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East region said:
“It is, and always has been, a myth that the UK faces an airport capacity crisis; we already fly more than any other country, yet the huge budgets of the airport and pro-expansion lobbies are busy trying to convince us otherwise. All but one UK airport is under-capacity and demand is likely to fall, rather than rise, following Britain's decision to leave the EU."
The Green Party, alongside campaign groups from both Heathrow and Gatwick and major environmental NGOs, are alsoreiterating their opposition to new runways in the region based on the dramatically negative impact expansion would have on carbon emissions, air quality and noise levels.
Caroline Russell, London Assembly Member for the Green Party said:
“If we are genuinely serious about the long-term interests of Londoners and London’s economy, reducing the real risks posed by climate change and more extreme weather must be our priority.
“Further aviation expansion means reneging on our climate change commitments and letting down our neighbours in Europe and across the world.