Government Advisors Call For Review of Airport Plans

2M Group believes proposals to expand Heathrow 'have lost all credibility'

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Local councils campaigning against airport expansion have welcomed a new call for the government to reconsider its plans to expand Heathrow airport.

The government’s own advisers on sustainable development, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), have called for an independent review of aviation policy.

In a new report, the Commission argues that... 'fresh climate change science, the dramatic rise in oil price, the economic downturn and the renewed interest in high speed rail, all mean that a fresh look at what is in the best interests of the UK is timely.'

The Commission concludes that... 'for the government to press ahead with decisions on airport expansion without achieving further consensus would not be good governance.'

Speaking on behalf of the 2M Goup of 21 local authorities, the lead member of Hounslow Council, Cllr Peter Thompson, said “The Government’s plans to expand Heathrow have lost all credibility. First the Environment Agency spoke out against airport and now it’s the Sustainable Development Commission.

“How many more of the Government’s own advisers have to tell ministers that they have got it wrong on Heathrow expansion? If they won’t listen to their own advisers, then they should listen to the hundreds of thousands of people across London who say NO to airport expansion.”

Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister wants an independent study of Government plans and believes policy shouldn't simply be about what is good for BAA. He said, ““The economic case for expanding Heathrow seems to hinge on a future of cheaper flights and ever-growing demand. But none of these assumptions seem to take account of rising oil costs, the economic crisis or the government’s own CO2 targets. No serious attempt has been made to compare the benefits of a third runway with other transport solutions such as high speed rail for which there is great demand on Scotland and the North. It’s five years since the airports white paper was published and it is looking increasingly irrelevant to the nation’s transport needs.

The Sustainable Development Commission report has been published at a time when the council is stepping up its campaign against Heathrow expansion.

Councillors from all major parties are attending three main political conferences to meet with MPs and encourage them to put pressure on the Government to abandon its expansion plans.

September 19, 2008