The South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) has panned plans to expand Heathrow and Gatwick as “unnecessary” in a report to be released this week suggesting abstinence and self-control is the answer to congestion in the skies.
The report suggests that pollution from air travel should be tackled by encouraging people to take fewer flights rather than accommodating increased travel by expanding provision with a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick (after 2019).
The report was commissioned by SEERA but prepared by independent consultants and is likely to put increasing pressure on transport secretary Alistair Darling who sees expansion at Stansted and Heathrow as imperative to meet increasing demand in the south east. SEERA’s head of transport planning – Mike Gwilliam – accepts there is a possible case for expansion at Stansted but is scathing about the government’s apparently unfettered attitude towards general expansion of air travel in the light of its contribution to air pollution.
Meanwhile British Airports Authority (BAA) is expected to publish plans later this month to reduce pollution in the Heathrow area in an effort to comply with EU emission control directives, which currently rule out a third runway. They are considering a compulsory ban on petrol-powered vehicles within the airport perimeter. A voluntary ban is already in place with 60% of service vehicles complying.
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