Aviation campaigners from across Britain call on government to stop all airport expansion plans

GALBA (the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport) and 24 other airport campaign groups across the country send an open letter to Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation, and Michael Gove, Minister for Levelling Up and Communities, calling on ministers to re-think their policy of supporting an unconstrained growth of flying. The campaigners want the government to immediately stop all plans to expand airports to help the UK cut its greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and as quickly as possible. The letter echoes advice from independent experts and national environmental organisations. Due to global heating, we are at an unprecedentedly dangerous moment in human history. Every sector of the economy must halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if we are to preserve a liveable planet for future generations.  They urge the government to stop supporting unconstrained aviation growth and airport expansion plans, until aviation emissions are actually falling and wider emissions are on track to keep global heating to no more than 1.5C.
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Aviation campaigners from across Britain join GALBA to call on government to stop all airport expansion plans

14.6.2022  (GALBA)

Today, the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) joined with 24 other campaign groups across the country to send an open letter to the government calling on ministers to re-think their policy of supporting an unconstrained growth of flying. They want the government to immediately stop all plans to expand airports to help the UK cut its greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and as quickly as possible. The letter was sent to Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation, and Michael Gove, Minister for Levelling Up and Communities and echoes advice from independent experts and national environmental organisations.

Chris Foren, chair GALBA, said: “It’s great news that Leeds Bradford Airport has dropped its planning application but other airports still want to increase flights – and the government supports them. That is absolute madness! We are at an unprecedentedly dangerous moment in human history. Every sector of the economy must halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if we are to preserve a liveable planet for future generations. But our government supports the unconstrained growth of aviation, which inevitably also means the growth of its emissions, during this decade.”

The letter supports advice recently given to the government by a group of leading environmental organisations, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. They urged the government to prevent any further expansion of airports until aviation emissions are actually falling and wider emissions are on track to keep global heating to no more than 1.5oC. Separate research by independent experts Element Energy has also concluded that “there should be no airport expansion until and unless it is clear that … [aviation] emissions… are on track to meet a fair emissions reduction for 2035 and beyond.”

Chris added: “The government’s hope that new fuels and new technologies will reduce aviation emissions sometime in the distant future is not based on any credible evidence – and anyway, it would be too late! The government’s own civil servants, independent experts and the Climate Change Committee all point out the very great uncertainties and high risks of over-reliance on scaling up these, as yet largely untested, new fuels and technologies. It’s deeply irresponsible to take such a gamble when we’re talking about the threat of climate catastrophe.”

“There is still time to make the right decisions for our planet and for everyone’s future. We sincerely hope that the ministers will take note of our letter and do the right thing.”

ENDS

Letter to Robert Courts and Michael Gove: the letter was initiated by GALBA and has been signed by 24 other aviation/climate campaign groups from across the country, including Manchester and Heathrow. You can read the letter here (and it is copied below)

Expert climate policy advice on airport expansion:

  • Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) said last year, ​”There is not any space for airport expansion” if the UK is to meet its climate goals. The CCC’s policy recommendation is for ​”no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory and can accommodate the additional demand”. That test has not been met and will not be met for many years to come.

  • On 16 May this year, Element Energy analysed the policy options available to government to ensure aviation contributes proportionately to the UK’s target of cutting all green house gas emissions by 78% by 2035. They concluded that “there should be no airport expansion until and unless it is clear that both in-sector (aircraft technology) and out-of-sector (carbon removal) emissions reductions are on track to meet a fair emissions reduction for 2035 and beyond.” Element Energy has previously been contracted by the Dept for Transport to advise the government on its climate-related policy options.

  • On 18 May, an open letter was sent to Robert Courts by a group of large environmental non-governmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. They called on the Government to withdraw its policy support for airport expansion until aviation emissions are actually falling and wider emissions are substantially below a 1.5oC-compliant trajectory.


The letter:

To: Robert Courts MP
Minister for Aviation and Maritime
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London
SW1P 4DR

To: Michael Gove MP
Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

 

Dear Mr Courts and Mr Gove,

Aviation policy and net zero

We are aware of an open letter sent in May by a group of environmental non-governmental organisations. In it, they urge the government to prevent any further expansion of UK airports “until aviation emissions are actually falling and wider emissions are substantially below a 1.5oC-compliant trajectory.” We are aviation campaign groups from around the country and we fully support the NGOs’ recommendation.

This is an unprecedentedly dangerous moment in human history. The IPCC tells us that every sector of every economy must halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if we are to preserve a liveable planet for future generations. We share the NGOs’ deep concern about the government’s proposal to allow aviation emissions to rise up to 2030, in the hope that new fuels and technologies will reduce them thereafter. 

As you will be aware, both the DfT’s authors of Jet Zero and the CCC have acknowledged the very great uncertainties and high risks associated with an over-reliance on scaling up those emerging fuels and technologies. You will also be aware of recent analysis by Element Energy which said: “​​We conclude that there should be no airport expansion until and unless it is clear that both in-sector (aircraft technology) and out-of-sector (carbon removal) emissions reductions are on track to meet a fair emissions reduction for 2035 and beyond.”

So we urge you to exercise caution and follow the NGOs’ advice: do not expand airports and aviation emissions until we are sure that future technologies can deliver the necessary reductions fast enough. We look forward to your response to our letter.

Yours sincerely

Chris Foren, Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport

Chloe Jeffries, Climate Emergency Manchester

Lawrence Jones, Liverpool John Lennon Airport Watch

Roger Haydon, Aircraft Noise Action Group (Newcastle)

Tam Brady, Whitecrook Aircraft Noise Association (Glasgow)

Helena Paul, Edinburgh Airport Watch

Steve Clarke, Bristol Airport Action Network

Angela Cotton, AXO Southampton

Jenny Dawes, Manston Airport 

Justine Bayley, Stop Heathrow Expansion 

Maggie Thorburn, Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise

John Stewart, HACAN East (London City)

Sally Pavey, Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions

Brian Ross, Stansted Airport Watch

Bridget Bell, Plane Hell Action South East (London)

Andrew Lambourne, Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise

Ray Stewart, SW Essex Fight the Flights (London City/Heathrow)

Armelle Thomas, Harmondsworth Residents Association (Heathrow)

Murray Barter, Residents Against Aircraft Noise (Heathrow)

Rose Bridger, Coordinator, Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement 

Finlay Asher, Safe Landing

Anna Hughes, Flight Free UK 

Claire James, Campaign against Climate Change

Chris Watson, International Climate Safe Travel Institute

Dr Mia Thomas, Medact Leeds

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See the earlier NGO letter: 

 

NGOs write to Aviation Minister asking that airport expansions are stopped until aviation CO2 emissions can actually be reduced

Currently there are expansion plans by 7 UK airports (Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Southampton and Manston) and government has no coherent policy on aviation carbon emissions in relation to the UK “net zero” by 2050 target. So a group of NGOs (AEF, AirportWatch, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, Possible and T&E) has written to Aviation Minister, Robert Courts, calling on the Government to withdraw its policy support for airport expansion until aviation carbon emissions are actually falling, and wider UK emissions are substantially below a 1.5C-compliant trajectory.  It also voices concerns that the Government’s draft Jet Zero strategy is built around assumptions that future increases in sustainable fuels and carbon removals will occur after 2030, but with no clear policy plan to ensure that happens. The letter points out that neither the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) for a new runway at Heathrow nor the Making Best Use (MBU) policy for other airports – both released in 2018 – have yet been assessed for their compatibility with achieving net zero aviation by 2050.  Planning authorities should not be left reliant on out-of-date policies when determining applications for airport expansion – as happens now.

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