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Home » Planet Issue, Viewpoint

Viewpoint – Planet: Will British Aviation get a Second Wind?

Submitted by on March 5, 2013 – 9:07 amNo Comment

In 2010 plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport was dropped by the new coalition government. Now, in response to other European countries’ growing aviation capacity, the issue has resurfaced.

The Howard Davies aviation commission will spend 2013 determining the future need for expansions and deliver their report to the government in 2015. Many of the main stakeholders in the situation such as the former BAA have put pressure on the government to speed up this review.

But no matter the decision, activist groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Plane Stupid, who in the past campaigned heavily against the third runway, have promised to continue their pressure on a British reduction in carbon emissions and increase in alternative transport use.

Businesses claim Britain must upgrade to continue to be financially competitive in aviation. London First a lobby organisation representing transport business was one of the main defenders of the third runway at Heathrow. Director of Communications Rob McIvor fears without it Britain will be left behind by the rest of Europe:

“Frankfurt, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam are busy building new airports, putting more flights to the emerging markets and actually winning a lot of business that should be coming into the UK and independent research into this show that we are probably losing out on £14 billion worth of export business every year just because people can’t get to the market they want to serve.”

“What’s happening at the same time is that these new markets in countries such as Brazil, India, Russia, Indonesia, South Korea and particularly China have been expanding very, very rapidly and we simply cannot get to them without flying via other countries. Research has shown that a country does around twenty times as much trade with another country if it can fly directly between major cities than if it cant.”

The Airplot Campaign bought a local spot of land near Heathrow Airport.

Activist group Greenpeace started the Airplot campaign to stop the runway by buying and occupying a piece of land in the proposed area. They and other environmental groups dismiss they idea that the UK is lacking in runways. Press Officer Graham Thompson explains:

“The usual line is that we will lose out to Frankfurt, Schiphol in Amsterdam or De Gaulle in Paris. I think Schiphol has four runways, I think Frankfurt has three and might be putting in a fourth, and London has six. Frankfurt, Schiphol and De Gaulle are not only behind us, but they are going to stay behind us and they are not going to catch up. So that is, pardon my French, just a bullshit line.”

“Heathrow is enormous; Heathrow is huge and as it is Britons fly twice as much as Germans, twice as much as the French, twice as much as the Dutch. If our economy depends on expanding Heathrow that means every other country in the world will have to at least quadruple their airports, either that, or the argument is wrong.”

Besides Heathrow, expansions at Stansted, Gatwick and the idea of a new airport on an artificial island in the Thames will be considered.

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