Select Committee on Environmental Audit Ninth Report


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 airports—under the constrained scenario—would 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 aviation—even on a constrained basis—would wreck the aspirations it contains.

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