Government is ‘running scared’ of Heathrow climate test

28.1.2009     (SEERA)

Expansion at Heathrow airport must be independently tested for any impact on
climate change now and not after the runway is built, says the South East England
Regional Assembly.

Instead, Assembly members have called on Government to put its case for Heathrow’s
third runway to the Committee on Climate Change* this year. Government doesn’t
plan to seek views until 2020 but the Assembly believes it should show leadership
on climate change now. The Assembly has requested that the Committee reports its
findings within 12 months. Tests should examine if this is the best solution for
the country – economically and environmentally.

Cllr Paul Carter, Assembly Chairman, said:

“Heathrow plays a critical economic role but the Assembly remains against a third
runway at the airport. We are sceptical that expansion can be squared with our
own, and Government’s, commitments to tackle climate change. Government is running
scared of what the outcome might be, but it is unacceptable to impose expansion
without independent tests. We are calling on Government to let the Committee on
Climate Change offer an independent view now.”

“In the meantime, we will continue to work with the Mayor of London and the East
of England Regional Assembly to look at opportunities to make the best use of
our existing airports. We are commissioning further work to look at these issues.”

Public transport should be priority

The Assembly argued that Government should invest in high speed trains as an
alternative to the Heathrow expansion. It also stressed that improving access
to the airport must be a priority if Heathrow is to remain an international hub.
For example, Government needs to commit to the delivery of Airtrack – a new service
providing direct connections to the airport from Reading, Woking, Guildford and
London Waterloo.

*The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is an independent body established under
the Climate Change Act to advise the UK Government on setting carbon budgets,
and to report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Lesley van Dijk, Communications Manager at the Regional Assembly

Tel: 01483 555223

Alistair Moses, Communications Manager at the Regional Assembly

Tel: 01483 555221



Notes to Editors

For more information on the Assembly’s position see

The South East England Regional Assembly

The Assembly is a partnership of councils and communities in the South East region.
It was established in January 1999 to give a representative voice to the region,
which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Isle
of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey.

The Assembly is made up of 112 members including elected councillors nominated
by the region’s local authorities and 37 representatives from other sectors of
the community (including business, trades unions, education, housing, health,
sports, culture, tourism, faith groups, environmental, community and voluntary
organisations) as well as the New Forest National Park Authority.

The Assembly has six roles:

  • Regional Planning – preparing and delivering the South East Plan
  • Regional Housing – the Regional Housing Board decides housing investment priorities
  • Regional Transport – the Regional Transport Board decides transport investment priorities
  • Advocacy – pressing the South East’s interests in London and Brussels
  • Alignment – co-ordinating regional policies and decisions.
  • Accountability – scrutinising SEEDA’s plans and impact

Our vision is for a distinctive, outward-looking, accessible region of prosperous,
sustainable communities, with a high quality of life and environment.