The following letter from Jean and Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East of England, was sent to The Independent on Monday 6th September:
Your article ‘Secret plan for four-runway airport west of Heathrow’ shows what we all feared – that this government is hell bent on airport expansion at any costs. It is a deeply misguided vision for future transport policy. The Greens are the only party to point out that unchecked growth in our aviation capacity is simply not compatible with our emissions targets.
Aviation already accounts for about 13% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. If allowed to continue unchecked, aviation growth will make it impossible for the UK to meet its target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050. Recent research by the Aviation Environment Federation suggests that the UK already has sufficient airport infrastructure to meet the maximum levels of future demand that would be consistent with the limits on aviation growth recommended by the Climate Change Committee.
The economics of aviation currently depend on huge public subsidies. At a time of austerity how sensible is it for investment to be directed into the fastest growing emitter of CO2 when we have legal obligations to reduce these levels?
A new aiport would increase noise and air pollution. The health impacts of these pollutants are now much better understood, yet the government does not seem concerned to address these issues, except when it affects Tory MP’s West London constituents who live under the Heathrow flight path.
True political leadership would see investment in sustainable transport which enables people to travel cheaply and efficiently on trains rather than taking environment-wrecking internal flights.
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England and member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee
Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London