Heathrow doesn’t need third runway says top travel agent

24.7.2008   (Evening Standard)

Dick Murray, Transport Editor

A leading chain of travel agents has come out firmly against the proposed third
runway at Heathrow.

The Co-operative Travel, which has 400 high-street stores and sells more than
£1billion of holidays every year, says instead of the extra runway the aviation
industry must improve existing services and technology.

This is the first time a travel agency has joined the protests and is likely
to cause the Prime Minister discomfort.

Gordon Brown gave a strong hint to MPs last week that the Government intended
to approve the third runway at the end of the year. He said: “We can’t afford
to duck a decision about the future of airports. That’s why it is right to go
ahead with airport expansion.”

But Mike Greenacre, managing director of The Co-operative Travel, said that a
line had to be “drawn in the sand” for new runways and that a third runway would
increase traffic congestion around Heathrow.

Mr Greenacre said: “A third runway at Heathrow and other new runway proposals
conflict with the UK’s targets to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by

“If the industry can demonstrate that it is able to grow without increasing its
emissions, such growth, we believe, would be best accommodated at existing UK
regional airports.

“Ultimately, a line in the sand has to be drawn for new runways in the UK.”

Jason Torrance, campaigns director at Campaign for Better Transport – a pressure group which
conducted ” in-depth analysis of projected airline growth” with The Co-operative
Travel – said the chain had “thrown down a challenge to the travel industry to
put rhetoric about the need to tackle climate change into action”.

Environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future, added: “It’s great to see a business
squarely facing up to the sustainability challenges inherent in aviation and holiday

Current proposals are for another runway and a sixth terminal to be built at
Heathrow by 2020.

Business Secretary John Hutton was accused of turning the current consultation-about
the third runway into a “sham” after he said at Farnborough Air Show on 14 July
that “British business would not forgive us if we shirked our responsibility because
we wanted an easy ride from green lobby groups”.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said Mr Hutton “let slip what we knew all along
– the consultation for a third runway at Heathrow is a sham”, and accused the
Government of being “like a subsidiary” of airport owner BAA.