On 15 January the Government gave the go-ahead for
a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow.
I was dismayed by
this decision in view of the environmental consequences of airport expansion such as that
proposed at Heathrow. Aviation growth is incompatible with the emission reductions'
targets laid out in the UKs world leading climate legislation. I have signed a
number of Early Day Motions on the subject and the two of the most recent are printed below.
The Conservatives tabled a motion, which was identical to EDM 2344,
that had been tabled by a Labour MP, John Grogan. Consistent with my support for the
original EDM, I supported the motion, which was unfortunately defeated - though with a
substantially reduced majority. I spoke in the Opposition Day Debate on 28 January
and you can read my speech here.
change is the most important challenge facing humanity, requiring urgent and radical
action. I have consistently supported actions to reduce our CO2 emissions, particularly through my work on the Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs Select Committee. To read an article on actions I am taking to reduce my
carbon footprint click here.
I do not find it at all reassuring that the Government have set a target that aviation
emissions will get back to 2005 levels by 2050. This actually increases these
emissions until then! On 20 January, I tabled a Parliamentary Question to the
Department of Energy and Climate Change as follows:
What assessment he has made of the cumulative
effect on UK carbon dioxide emissions of the target of returning to 2005 emissions of
carbon dioxide from aviation between now and 2050 as a proportion of the total UK carbon
dioxide emissions between now and 2050?
The context to my PQ is that
the achievement of the 400-450ppm concentration of CO2 necessary to limit global warming to no more than 2º C (and so avoid
dangerous climate change) will depend on the trajectory of emissions and not just the
final target. If emissions from aviation are set to get worse before they get
better, it will be all the more difficult to achieve this. I will post details of
the reply when I receive it.
GOVERNMENT POLICY ON THIRD RUNWAY AT HEATHROW AIRPORT
That this House urges the Government to
rethink its plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport and to give full consideration to
alternative solutions; regrets the Government's heavy reliance on data supplied by the BAA
in assessing the case for expansion and notes the likely forthcoming break up of BAA's
ownership of three of London's airports following the investigation by the Competition
Committee; believes that the consultation paper Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport was
deeply flawed, as it paid insufficient regard to the costs of air and noise pollution in
the surrounding areas and the commitment to curb carbon dioxide emissions to tackle
climate change; regrets the fact that provisions to improve high speed rail lines from
Heathrow to major cities have not been fully explored, along with the potential of other
UK airports to handle more long haul flights; and urges the Government to initiate a
consultation on a new national planning policy statement on the theme of airports and high
EDM 339: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THIRD RUNWAY AT HEATHROW
That this House
notes the Government's commitment given in the 2003 Aviation White Paper, The Future of
Air Transport to reduce noise impacts and to ensure that air quality and environmental
standards are met before proceeding with a third runway at Heathrow Airport; further notes
the assurance given by the Prime Minister on 12 November 2008 that support for a third
runway at Heathrow is subject to strict environmental conditions; further notes that
Heathrow Airport is already in breach of the European Air Quality Directive to be
implemented by 2010; welcomes the statement by the Secretary of State for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs that these environmental commitments should be honoured; supports
the Chairman of the Environment Agency's decision to oppose the third runway on
environmental grounds; and calls upon the Government not to proceed with the third
Heathrow runway or mixed-mode and to put the matter to a vote on the floor of the House.