Solihull councillor expresses ‘real’ concerns about impact of Birmingham Airport expansion
The leader of the Green party group, Cllr Burn, on Solihull council has said that Birmingham Airport’s expansion plans pose a grave risk to the environment. He said he had real concerns about the draft masterplan, which sets out a vision for annual passenger numbers to increase to 18 million by 2033. At a Cabinet meeting he said the Council needed to urge the airport to do far more to reduce and offset “huge” carbon emissions. Cllr Burn said: “It’s not popular to say, but we cannot have this growth in air travel and stick to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, we just can’t. The extra emissions here are just way above what we can combat in emissions reduction elsewhere. We have to be honest, it’s not sensible or responsible to grow air travel unless it can come with no additional carbon emissions and it just can’t – the technology for that is so far off.” The Leader of the Council said the council was “robust” in its discussions with the airport, but it gives a lot of people jobs. The council is a shareholder in the airport, and benefits from the council tax the airport pays, which “does help keep our council tax burden down and also allows us to spend money on frontline services”. The expansion planned is 40% increase in passenger numbers and 21% increase in flights (ie. CO2), in 15 years.
‘Real’ concerns about impact of Birmingham Airport expansion
Solihull councillor voices fears about the environmental cost of plans
By David Irwin Local Democracy Reporter (Birmingham Live)
21 JAN 2019
Birmingham Airport’s expansion plans pose a grave risk to the environment, a Solihull councillor has claimed.
Cllr James Burn, leader of the Green group, said he had real concerns about the draft masterplan, which sets out a vision for annual passenger numbers to increase to 18 million by 2033.
Speaking at last week’s cabinet meeting, he said that Solihull Council needed to urge the airport to do far more to reduce and offset “huge” carbon emissions.
He also wanted to see more people travelling to the site via public transport.
Cllr Bob Sleigh, Leader of the Council, insisted the authority was not afraid to have “robust” discussions with the airport, pointing out that it had stood virtually alone in arguing against a second runway – a suggestion which has since been dropped.
Outlining his concerns, Cllr Burn said: “It’s not popular to say, but we cannot have this growth in air travel and stick to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, we just can’t.
“The extra emissions here are just way above what we can combat in emissions reduction elsewhere.
“We have to be honest, it’s not sensible or responsible to grow air travel unless it can come with no additional carbon emissions and it just can’t – the technology for that is so far off.”
He argued that while Birmingham was the seventh busiest airport in the country, it had the third biggest impact on local residents because of its location.
In response, Cllr Sleigh said that the council had a good record working with the airport and was “robust” when it came to discussions over issues such as the environment.
“The airport has been there since 1938, it’s a reality,” he said.
“It does sustain an awful lot of people’s jobs, it has a massive impact from the perspective of economic growth but equally, absolutely, it’s fairly unique in the way it’s positioned.
“And therefore we have to work with the airport to mitigate … what it does to the surrounding communities.
“Just so that you’re clear, I live at the end of the runway. The A380 [airliner] actually goes over my house, so I think people can’t say that I don’t have a personal experience of Birmingham Airport.”This is how Solihull plans to reduce air pollution
Cllr Robert Hulland, cabinet member for resources and delivering value, said the council could press for improvements while ensuring the prosperity of the site.
“We are a shareholder in the airport and the success of the airport does help keep our council tax burden down and also allows us to spend money on frontline services to members of our community.” [Ownership of Birmingham airport: Seven Metropolitan Boroughs of West Midlands (49%) Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (48.25%) Employees (2.75%) ]
To meet rising demand, the airport intends to pump around £500 million into an expansion and improvement programme. It forecasts that by 2033 its annual contribution to the local economy will have reached £2.1 billion.
In its draft masterplan, it said that it takes its environmental responsibilities “very seriously” and had developed a carbon management plan.
An airport spokesman said: “Our masterplan outlines how we can provide better global connectivity for the region and create thousands of more jobs for local people, whilst making full use of its single runway within the existing airport boundary.
“Whilst we estimate a 40 per cent rise in passengers by 2033 from 13 million today to 18 million, the number of annual aircraft movements are only expected to grow by 21 per cent over the next 15 years.
“We are committed to managing our environmental impact, and since 2010 we have reduced our carbon emissions per passenger by over 50 per cent.
“We take an open and transparent approach to working with our local communities through our Airport Consultative Committee and our broader connections.”
The council’s official response to the masterplan consultation was approved by cabinet.
The report presented to the meeting said that the airport’s contribution to the economy had to be recognised, but the levels of growth would not be without impact.
Residents have until January 31 to have their say. Further details are available at www.bhxmasterplan.co.uk
Birmingham Airport expansion plans criticised over rising emission concerns
Green councillors amid concerns over rises in greenhouse gas emissions. They say the airport’s draft masterplan is ‘irresponsible’. The increase in passenger numbers after the expansion could see the level of emissions rise to double that produced by the entire city of Wolverhampton every year. The masterplan – covering the next 15 years – includes proposals to increase use of the airport’s existing runway, expand the passenger terminal and baggage sorting areas. The investment aims to prepare the airport to attract 18 million passengers by 2033. This would make Birmingham Airport the region’s largest single source of greenhouse gases. Even before the airport expansion, it is projected to emit 1.7million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year by 2030, Department for Transport figures show. By contrast, Wolverhampton’s carbon footprint is about one million tonnes per annum, according to latest government statistics. Just at a time when humanity should be making every possible effort to cut CO2 emissions.
Birmingham airport unveils draft Master Plan, for huge growth over next 15 years
Birmingham Airport has unveiled its draft Master Plan, with its hopes of expansion over the next 15 years. There is a consultation till 31st January. It wants to increase its capacity by 5 million passengers a year (mppa) Much of the intended spending will be for a larger departure lounge with a mezzanine floor, new retail and restaurant units, more toilets and seating. Also more self-service desks (ie. fewer jobs…) and “the latest bag-drop technology and a new back-of-house baggage sorting area aimed at improving efficiency.” (ie. fewer jobs). This has been seen by the airport’s consultative committee on 5th November. There is no plan for a 2nd runway, but the expansion will cause more environmental damage, more noise, CO2 emissions etc. – of which, no mention is made. (The usual airport attitude is “the majority of emissions are from planes in the sky and that is nothing to do with us…”). In the 2006 Master Plan the forecasts were for 25mppa by 2030; now they have reduced that to 18mppa by 2033. There were 12.9 mppa in 2017. Local campaigners suspect this will not be encouraging shareholders to fund expansion plans till the runway situation in the south east is sorted out. The airport is claiming the increased number of passengers will boost the local economy by £xx billion, and increase jobs by yyy. (These claims never materialise).