THE WAY AHEAD
87. The capacity of regional airports is sufficient
to accommodate over the coming decades a growth of nearly 2.5
times the present capacity. Indeed, we note that regional airportsunder
the constrained scenariowould handle up to 40 mppa more
than they otherwise would if new runways were built in the South-East.
88. In this situation, it appears to us unrealistic
that the Government should attempt to "pick winners"
and decide a strategy for the next 30 years. It would be irresponsible
to sanction major expansion on this basis, particularly in view
of the Government's failure to promote a public debate which is
informed by a thorough understanding of the environmental implications
of growth and of the assumptions underpinning DfT growth forecasts.
We have no doubt that a future Government will be returning to
the issue of airport capacity in five or ten years time.
89. Given the enormity of the challenge facing the
world if we are to minimise the impact of global warming, the
Government must commit itself to managing the demand for air
travel and to decoupling the growth in aviation from overall economic
growth. The DfT consultation fails to take on board the new direction
in policy initiated by the Government's recent Energy White Paper;
while the growth proposed in aviationeven on a constrained
basiswould wreck the aspirations it contains.