Memorandum by the Airports Policy Consortium
THE INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER
1. The Airports Policy Consortium (APC) welcomes
the inquiry by the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs
Committee. It offers the opportunity to identify a range of issues
which must be addressed in developing the Government's transport
policies and, from APC's perspective, the specific issues raised
in preparing the promised aviation strategy.
2. APC is a group of local authorities committed
to working towards an airports strategy for the UK that reconciles
the economic and environmental impacts of aviation in a sustainable
3. APC welcomes the publication of the Government's
White PaperA New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone.
Not only does it take a long hard look at transport, but it has
also included many aspects of transport which in the past have
not been addressed. Debate on these issues is healthy and important.
Whilst aviation is, understandably, not given the same priority
in the White Paper as roads and rail, it does at last feature
in this great transport debate . This acknowledgement that a strategic
approach is needed to the integration of all forms of transport
is a great leap forward.
4. Aviation has had little Governmental guidance
or direction since the 1985 Airports Act which itself has proved
insufficient in the face of ever increasing demand. This has been
reflected in the ad-hoc proposals for new infrastructure with
dominant growth centred around the south-east at the expense of
many regional airports.
5. For many years now APC has been calling for
a long-term aviation strategy that looks at the issue of aviation
and airport development from a national perspective. The recognition
that a 30 year aviation strategy is now needed is a significant
and welcome development.
6. Although aviation policy issues were only
a small part of the White Paper, their importance to the development
of an integrated and sustainable transport policy should not be
underestimated. Aviation needs to be closely integrated with roads
and railways but also presents the most diverse range of social,
economic and environmental challenges.
7. The starting point for any strategy must
be forecasts of future demand and assessments of existing planned
capacity. Judgments then have to be taken over the acceptability
of meeting all that demand and the consequences, particularly
the economic, social and environmental consequences, of both meeting
and not meeting it.
8. The quality of the forecasts of future passenger
demand and the number and types of aircraft needed has varied
over the last 30 years. At times the forecasts have been judged
to be too high but more recently they have been too low.
|DETR forecasts of future passenger demand
|Year||London area mppa
||Regions mppa |
|1 This is the DETR's unconstrained demand figure.
2 Growth from 2015 to 2030 is assumed by APC to be three times the previous five years growth.
9. Forecast growth over the next 30 years of some 200 mppa
in the south east and some 150 mppa in the regions needs to be
compared with Heathrow's current throughput of 58 mppa, Gatwick
at 27 mppa and Manchester with 17 mppa. Meeting the above forecasts
would entail every UK airport growing to three or four times its
current size over the next 30 years. APC believes that the proposed
aviation strategy needs to address whether this is an acceptable
or sensible proposition from a social, economic and environmental
10. The White Paper identified (paragraph 3.191) that "aviation
should meet the external costs, including environmental costs,
which it imposes." APC welcomes the policy and is keen to
see work undertaken to help quantify those issues. In particular
studies of air pollution, effective transfer of shorter journeys
to rail or sea, and better information to enable people to choose
between different forms of transport will all be needed. The Government
has already recognised (White Paper paragraph 2.24) that CO2
emissions per passenger kilometre are higher from air travel than
most other ways of travelling and that fuel for air travel now
accounts for one-sixth of transport fuel sold in the UK. If air
travel grows as predicted that percentage could grow as well.
11. The White Paper also proposes the establishment of an
Air Transport Forum for all major airports. Improved public transport
to airports to vital, but realistically the major modal shift
may have to be achieved with employees more than with passengers.
12. Clearly the above predictions are only the starting point
and could be classed as unrealistic. Nevertheless they show, dramatically,
that action needs to be taken soon to look and plan well ahead.
13. Recent passenger increases appear even to be exceeding
the high forecasts set out above. The obvious implication is that
major new infrastructure will be needed spread across the whole
country. This scenario of demand exceeding capacity is exactly
the same dilemma that faced the Government on the roads programme
some years ago. This has led to an acceptance by Government that
"predict and provide" is no longer a sustainable roads
policy and alternative means of dealing with road traffic growth
are, consequently, now being pursued.
14. The APC believe that, given this experience of the roads
programme, the Government must now seriously address whether the
"predict and provide" approach should also formally
be eliminated from aviation policy. Alternatives are less easy
to identify in the aviation industry, yet meeting all demands
may prove impossible to achieve as part of a sustainable transport
15. If trebling the capacity of all or most airports in the
UK cannot be embodied into a sustainable aviation strategy, then
demand will need to be constrained. On that basis some key questions
need to be addressed as part of developing the strategy.
Do some parts of the aviation industry so bolster
the economy of the UK that constraints must not be introduced?
How can regional airports better provide for the
services needed to help their local economies and contribute to
a national strategy?
Are all predicted journeys essential or can efforts
be made to encourage the greater use of less damaging methods
of communicatione.g., rail, sea, video conferencing?
How can the leisure passenger be protected from
being squeezed out on price?
Which journeys can be better made by land or sea?
What steps can be taken to evaluate the direct
social and economic impact of increased tourism on the environmental
capacity of facilities in this country and those we visit?
How can we be sure that improvements in air traffic
control can match the increase in air traffic movements, maintain
passenger safety and avoid pollution from delayed landings?
What will be the local and global effect of pollution
from aircraft and how does this meet the UK's obligations under
How can environmental impact be better assessed
and then controlled over time?
Can the Transport Forum for each airport be given
realistic targets for air passengers and employees travel mode?
16. APC is of the view that there is not yet enough information
available to the Government on which to base a decision on such
questions. Yet, if it is necessary to constrain demand, then action
needs to be taken soon to reduce the current 5 per cent to 6 per
cent annual growth.
17. One approach to producing a strategy may be to set a
growth limit of say 2 per cent per annum. The challenge, as part
of producing a long term aviation strategy, would then be to identify
action that needs to be taken to keep to that level and to quantify
the social and economic damage that may be caused. Any such damage
can then be compared with the environmental impact of meeting
more of the demand.
18. Another method of developing the strategy may to define
the acceptable environmental capacity of the key airports and
their hinterland. Then to challenge the aviation industry to identify
the growth that can be accommodated without breaking that limit.
19. Any future aviation strategy must be an amalgam of seeking
the economic benefits, minimising or managing the environmental
impact and resolving the surface access implications.
20. It is APC's view that work on economic benefits and the
practicality and techniques of environmental controls needs to
be developed by independent consultants in advance of seeking
both policy and site specific solutions. APC is concerned that
a failure to obtain truly independent advice will allow parties
to question the validity of any assessment made and will mean
that any strategy will lack a broad consensus.
21. Thereafter representatives of the local authorities and
the aviation industry must work with Government to identify and
evaluate a range of options for meeting that part of the demand,
which is judged from earlier studies as desirable to accommodate.
Possible solutions should range from modest expansion of some
existing facilities; major expansions of existing airports; new
inland sites; coastal sites and esturial sitesrecognising
that some of these options themselves have major environmental
22. Complex studies of each possible location will be needed,
with the aim of identifying the best mixture of economic benefit
and environmental controls.
23. The aim must be to prepare a draft policy statement which
compares and contrasts all possibilities and then provides a period
for consultation. Based on that consultation process it must then
be the responsibility of Government to take the lead and determine
which solutions form part of its aviation strategy.
24. These solutions will then need to be reflected in the
regional planning process so as to secure the appropriate integration
of land use and transport infrastructure. Thereafter it will be
for the aviation industry to bring forward specific proposals
when they judge the time is right. Those proposals will ultimately
need testing through the planning process but only to judge the
best methods of mitigating and controlling impact. The principle
of growth at that location will have been set in Parliament as
a part of the Government's Aviation Strategy.
25. The APC welcomes the Government's commitment to developing
a 30 year aviation strategy.
26. The Government's recognition that "predict and provide"
is no longer sustainable for the roads programme is equally applicable
to the aviation industry. This should be made explicit at the
start of developing the 30 year strategy and options developed
for managing demand, sooner rather than later.
27. Urgent independent studies into the economic value of
aviation, and the social and environmental consequences of meeting
all demand, should be undertaken now to inform the development
of an aviation strategy if it is to enjoy broad consensus.
28. An aviation strategy is needed before any new infrastructure
29. Any strategy is going to be contentious but those involved
in its preparation must be persuaded that compromise is better
than a continuation of previous and current conflicts.
30. The ultimate decision on a strategy must lie with Government.
31. The mitigation of environmental effects of airport growth,
the harnessing of important economic benefits and the integration
of transport infrastructure must be determined locally.