Kelly rejects proposals to limit air travel
4.3.2008 (Financial Times)
Ruth Kelly, the transport secretary, on Monday firmly rejected proposals to ration
air travel "crudely" by halting airport expansion or imposing punitive taxes.
In spite of a groundswell of opposition to a third runway and sixth terminal
at London’s Heathrow airport, Ms Kelly underlined ministers’ support for "sustainable
growth of aviation".
Ms Kelly told a conference at the Royal Institute for International Affairs on
Monday that climate change was "one of the biggest threats facing the global community
Aviation was making a growing contribution to global warming, she said, with
worldwide emissions rising at 6 to 7% a year.
She warned, however, that if the UK took unilateral action to restrict aviation
growth, competing countries and airlines would be "free to grow and absorb business
from the UK. As a result there would be no overall emissions savings, just damage
to our economy.
"Seeking unilaterally to curtail growth would be economically damaging and would
push up fares, making air travel once again a luxury only the rich could enjoy."
Ms Kelly said sustainable growth in aviation could be made possible through advances
Most important, however, she called for aviation to be included in a global scheme
for emissions trading.
In recent days environmental protesters have penetrated security at Heathrow
and the Houses of Parliament, drawing attention to the growing resistance to expansion
and warning of conflicts to come. Protest meetings during the consultation were
attended by thousands of opponents, including most of the local authorities and
MPs from the areas around Heath row.
Under the plans, an additional runway and a further terminal would be built to
the north of the airport and would come into operation by about 2020. They would
require the demolition of about 700 homes, including the community of Sipson,
a local primary school and a community centre.