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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 November 2007, 14:52 GMT
Reaction: Heathrow expansion plan
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has outlined plans for a huge expansion at Heathrow Airport. Here is what is being said about the plans:


Heathrow supports 170,000 jobs, billions of pounds of British exports and is our main gateway to the global economy. But for too long it has operated at nearly full capacity, with relatively minor problems causing severe delays to passengers. If nothing changes, Heathrow's status as a world-class airport will be gradually eroded - jobs will be lost and the economy will suffer. London and the UK's nations and regions alike are reliant on the good international connections that the Heathrow hub provides. Equally, I am clear that any decision on expansion has to be compatible with meeting tough local environmental tests on noise and air quality. I fully understand this is an issue which raises strong feelings on all sides which is why we are making every effort to encourage people to make their views known.


Characteristically Ruth Kelly has refused to come to Parliament and answer MPs questions on these plans. This is not democracy. This is one of the most important decisions we face as a nation and it is scandalous that Ruth Kelly won't answer in Parliament to the MPs who represent people whose lives are directly impacted by the future Heathrow. Yet again she's running scared. We recognise that the economic arguments for expanding Heathrow are much stronger than any other airport in the South East but in a week when Gordon Brown tried to shore up his green credentials by talking about eighty percent cuts in emissions, Ruth Kelly has got some very tough questions to answer about Heathrow expansion. Before a decision can be made on this critically important issue, we believe that four tests must be met on NOx pollution, on noise, on alternative ways to meet demand and free up capacity, and above all, on meeting our climate change targets. Enormous efforts are needed from the Government if all these safeguards are going to be put in place and I hope Ruth Kelly can reassure the public that she will work with us to ensure that any plans for the future of Heathrow are consistent with these key environmental goals.


Given the need to greatly reduce carbon emissions, the last thing that ministers should be doing is doubling the capacity of a major airport. These plans will be even worse for the environment and local people than we originally thought. The new runway is longer than originally planned, and will allow for many more large continental flights. The Government's own recent ANASE study highlighted that the louder the airport noise gets, the more it disrupts peoples lives. The current noise limits don't bear any relation to the impact on those living nearby. Trying to stick to these arbitrary limits really misses the point. Noise levels around Heathrow have dropped by a third following the demise of Concorde. BAA could get away with having 40 more flights an hour, and still be inside its noise limits.


Let me make myself absolutely clear - I am firmly opposed to this expansion of Heathrow Airport as it runs contrary to all the growing evidence we now have on the impact of aviation on climate change. Only last week the latest United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change report warned of the very real threat of abrupt and irreversible climate change if we continue to allow carbon emissions to grow. Half of the population never fly at all from one year to the next, and of course it is vital to maintain business and long haul air travel, but a small proportion of people are taking ever more short haul leisure flights. The Government will need to demonstrate why demand for such trips couldn't be better met by investing in rail infrastructure, and if this happened why additional runway capacity would still be needed.


Good air links are vital to UK businesses operating in a global economy, and Heathrow, as our national hub, has been constrained for too long. The Government needs to move forward swiftly so that extra capacity at Heathrow can become a reality. Today's verdict that the local environmental tests can be met is an important step forward. We must also ensure that, as the threat from climate change grows, aviation plays its part in the move to a low carbon economy - even as demand for air travel increases.


Aviation supports around 500,000 jobs in the UK, and many others in support services, so the future of Heathrow is crucial to our economy. We want to see Heathrow's development to deliver secure, high quality jobs in a well-unionised environment. We welcome the Government's commitment to balancing the economic benefits of airport expansion with environmental aspects, not only local noise and air pollution, but also national climate change priorities. The TUC looks forward to working with government to ensure the sustainable development of Heathrow.


This consultation spells good news for passengers. Heathrow is full and its dependence on two runways, while European competitors have four or five, causes delays, (aircraft) stacks and crawling taxiway queues. The cost of this congestion can be measured economically and environmentally. More efficient, or mixed-mode, use of the existing runways would allow us to cut delays at a stroke, while a third runway will mean we can add new destinations to the UK's global reach. There will be no more noise overall from the airport, better air quality, and improved public transport links.


We are committed to ensuring that growth is sustainable. By the time a third runway becomes operational, aviation emissions will have been capped by the EU for several years. If airlines want to fly more, they will have to pay for emissions reductions in other industries - so overall carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will not rise because of a third runway.


Ruth Kelly's plans are an attack on London. The cost of the government's grand project at Heathrow will be illness due to increased pollution in west London, intrusive and stress-inducing noise as far east as Finsbury Park, and economic damage to the whole city ... A highly dubious economic case is being constructed to justify a catastrophic impact on people's environment, now and in the future. Air pollution kills, persistent noise increases risk of depression, and climate change is already destroying, and taking, hundreds of thousands of lives across the globe. That a minister will happily expose ordinary people to all of this just to keep the aviation lobbyists happy, shows just how skewed the government's priorities are.


Limiting growth at Heathrow wouldn't prevent climate change because that growth would only go elsewhere. It would only serve to damage the UK's competitiveness, as well as limit the choice available to the huge number of people living in London who want to travel to visit friends and family. We rely on air travel to connect people and places on a wider scale.


I strongly oppose current expansion plans at Heathrow. There are still many unanswered questions on a proposal that will be detrimental to the lives of millions of Londoners. The plans are unacceptable as they stand. We need a full review of all potential capacity in London's airports before we even contemplate such a massive increase of air traffic over west London. Three months is clearly not enough to consult on such an important issue.


The government needs to look for 21st century ways of connecting people rather than promoting the most polluting method of all - flying. The expansion of Heathrow is completely at odds with the Government's climate change targets, and there are alternatives - such as video conferencing and high-speed train travel.


Today's announcement undermines Gordon Brown's speech earlier this week pledging to make Britain a world leader in tackling climate change. Aviation is the fastest growing source of UK carbon dioxide. Allowing airports like Heathrow to expand seriously threatens targets for tackling global warming. The Government must curb the growth in flights if it is serious about significantly cutting Britain's carbon footprint. The Government must also take other steps to tackle the growing impact from aviation. It must include Britain's share of international aviation and shipping emissions in its new climate change law, press for a stronger EU emissions trading scheme for aviation, and invest in alternatives to short-haul flights, such as high-speed rail.


The aviation industry pulls these figures out of the air with no evidence to back up their inflated claims. They want the country to believe that our national economic well-being relies on a mile-long strip of tarmac covering a local village in west London. In reality, UK residents spend far more money abroad than visitors spend here, costing the country billions, and that figure is growing, due in part to airport expansion. The economic costs of climate change will dwarf any profits business might make from a third runway. Global warming is the greatest threat we face and requires a response that radically changes the way we think about airports. New Labour is cultivating a binge-flying culture in this country instead of tackling the problem head-on. If the Government promoted rail travel instead of planes we could start to reduce the impact of Heathrow instead of increasing it. Currently one fifth of flights out of Heathrow are domestic or short-haul, easily reachable by train, including to places like Brussels and Paris.


The government is asking us to trust that, by the time the runway is built, there will be an entirely new fleet of quieter aircraft flying. They are so hell-bent on expansion that they are not stopping to count the environmental costs. They will not even take into account their own noise study which they had promised would be used to underpin Government policy. The more flights there are, the more people get annoyed. People living under the flightpath will be outraged by this lack of basic regard for their quality of life. The government is instead content to hide behind a noise study completed 25 years ago. To rush out these plans for an extra 230,000 flights (a year) without taking account of the most up-to-date research on attitudes to noise is reckless. We are used to broken promises on Heathrow. We were told in 2003 that Terminal 5 could be operated without adding extra flights as aircraft were going to get bigger. We were also assured that a fifth terminal would avoid the need for a third runway. Expanding Heathrow may be good business for BAA but that's small comfort to the two million people living around the airport who will pay the environmental price.


We believe that at Heathrow any expansion should be used to reduce delay and build more resilience into the system rather than being used solely to increase flights. Introduction of mixed mode or Runway 3 requires a change in government policy and it is this on which the government is consulting. Once the government decides, we will then consider any airspace change proposal that may be required to support it. Any proposal will then be subject to separate consultation. We have not carried out detailed work on the airspace as there is no requirement for us to do so. What you see so far is purely conceptual.


There's a mantra here that it's important for the economy - the expansion of Heathrow. What has never been worked out is how those figures are arrived at . Heathrow is clearly it stands important to the economy, but the critical question expansion of Heathrow essential to the UK economy?


The strength of London's economy depends on its success as a world city and for many business sectors, that means being able to fly to meet their customers, peers and suppliers. They need to fly. But London's business leaders have a highly responsible approach to the local and global environmental implications of aviation. They would make Heathrow expansion conditional on facing up to those implications.


We welcome the consultation. Standing still is not an option. The expansion of Heathrow is absolutely essential for the creation of quality jobs in the civil aviation industry and maintaining Heathrow's position as an international hub. Heathrow is a major economic driver of London's economy and the UK as a whole. Unless Heathrow expands, this prime position is under threat.

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