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Last Updated: Monday, 20 November 2006, 12:28 GMT
UK 'running out of airport space'
BA flight into Heathrow
Aircraft may run out of airport space, the report warns
Britain's airports could run out of runway space for aircraft within 15 years if aviation growth is left unchecked, a report has said.

The report by 60 local authorities also says the aviation sector is one of only a few industries planning to increase its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The Strategic Aviation Special Interest Group (Sasig) wants Downing Street to curb growth.

The government has said it does not agree with Sasig's growth forecasts.

'Polluter pays'

Sasig said the government had "seriously underestimated" future demand for air travel.

It is calling for a full review of the 2003 Aviation White Paper, which published growth forecasts.

One option the government could follow would be to ensure the rate of annual growth was cut from 5% to 2%, the report said.

This could be brought about by a "polluter-pays" tax on air travel, it adds.

At the same time, train services could be improved to make rail services a more viable alternative to short-haul flights.

'Development constrained'

Sasig's report said it should be accepted that most of the UK's airports were located in areas where further growth was difficult, and that developments should be limited to a smaller number of airports.

There is universal recognition that the aviation industry is one of the fastest growing contributors to global warming
Richard Worrall
Sasig chairman

Sasig chairman Richard Worrall said: "We accept that the UK economy and its people have much to gain from a successful aviation industry.

"But there is universal recognition that the aviation industry is one of the fastest growing contributors to global warming.

"The government's own Stern report is a stark reminder to us all of the consequences of not taking action now to address the issues.

"The Aviation White Paper may only be three years old, but it is already self-evident that its forecasts of future demand for air travel, which underpin the government's aviation policies, have seriously underestimated future demand."

'Sustainable strategy'

The Department for Transport (DfT) has welcomed elements of the Sasig report, but said the white paper did not "support unconstrained growth."

A DfT spokesman said: "It supports making better use of existing capacity as a priority and targeted infrastructure enhancements over the long-term.

"The white paper provides a sustainable strategy for tackling the global and local environmental challenges of air travel whilst recognising business needs and people's increasing aspirations to travel," the spokesman added.

Aviation experts have said the white paper is a considered document which maps out a plan for the country's airport requirements in the coming years.


SEE ALSO
UK 'must act' on plane emissions
17 Oct 06 |  Science/Nature
Are the skies turning green?
19 Jul 06 |  Business

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