Birmingham Airport urged to drop plans for second runway

1.6.2009 (Birmingham Post)

by Patrice John, Birmingham Post 

Campaigners have called for Birmingham International Airport to forever banish
all plans for a second runway at the site.

Chris Crean, from West Midlands Friends of the Earth, and Gerald Kells, from Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), asked for assurances from the airport during a meeting to discuss planning across
the region.

The Examination in Public into the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS)
is exploring the implications of building more than 400,000 new homes in the region.

Mr Crean and Mr Kells were calling for an amendment to the draft document which
appears to give local authorities the option to "safeguard" land near the airport
that could be used for a second runway.

Mr Crean urged the airport to say no to airport expansion forever.

He said: "We would like to see the airport say they would never build a second

"If the airport do not think they need the land for the runway until 2030 and
the RSS does not extend to that date, then we should take the mention of it out
of this paper and use that land for growing food, and remove the blight on that
piece of land.

"This is impacting local residents."

Mr Kells said: "The mention of a second runway at BIA should not be included
in this plan.

"The land in question is green belt and so we really do think the wording put
forward in this document is not right and we would like it amended."

The draft Regional Spatial Strategy states that the airport should continue to
be developed and that beyond the period of the document "it may be necessary to
provide a second shorter runway. Development plans in Solihull and neighbouring
authorities should include policies" to look at this.

Opponents argued that the statement would leave the airport open to build a second
runway if they wanted to.

But Stephen Hill, the airport’s head of planning and transportation, drew attention
to the airport’s Master Plan, which includes no provision for a second runway
before 2030.

It also states that "it’s not included in Master Plan, but, as the forecasts
are reviewed, over future periods, runway capacity and the need for a second runway
could be reconsidered".

Speaking to the committee he said: "Our Master Plan is quite clear about our
views about a second runway.

"We also believe we have a good record for offering public transport to the airport.

"On climate change, the airport has never denied that we have an environmental
impact, but we have a good track record on mitigation and noise and this forms
a large part of the section 106 agreement reached over the runway extension."

James Watkins, from the West Midlands Business Council (WMBC), felt the text
was important and said: "It is critical for the airport that it can plan ahead
with some confidence and if BIA could not do that for a second runway then that
would send the wrong signals to outside investors.

"We do believe that BIA’s approach is right and it needs to be clear in the RSS
that a second runway could be a consideration."


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