Heathrow expansion could leave Birmingham Airport grounded
Birmingham International Airport may be forced to abandon its expansion plans in favour of Heathrows third runway if the Government is to meet its climate change targets, according to a new study.
The increase in emissions from an enlarged Heathrow would be so great that regional airports, including Birmingham, may have to cut thousands of flights to avoid breaching the target.
A study by environmental group Campaign for Better Transport reveals that three runways at Heathrow would use two-thirds of British aviations carbon quota by 2050 - denied by the Government, which has pinned its hopes on the development of green technology to continue expansion of regional airports.
Birmingham International is currently seeking permission to expand its runway by 400 metres to enable passenger numbers to increase from 9.6 million to 27 million by 2030. Chief executive Paul Kehoe said the planning application had been prepared with the Governments White Paper for a third runway at Heathrow in mind.
He said: At a time when the Midlands economy is in great need of a boost, it would be madness if Birmingham was to suffer at the expense of Heathrow. The south-east is not the whole of the UK and the economic benefits of our plans have been shown to improve the fortunes of our local community.
Plans for a runway extension at Birmingham gained overwhelming support last month from its local authority which recognises that Birmingham, as Britains second city, needs direct global connections, not an artificial constraint which forces businesses investing in the Midlands to fight their way out of Heathrow and up the M40. Birminghams plans, which are in line with Government policy, would help to claw back some 60 per cent of the market which currently goes outside the region - including Heathrow - to access global air travel.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: We dont accept what the Campaign for Better Transport is saying. The aircraft industry, through its Sustainable Aviation initiative, has already produced a road-map setting out how it is possible to bring aviation CO2 emissions below 2005 levels by 2050 while still providing for the growth forecast by the Government.
The CBT report states that even if Heathrow stopped growing in 2030 and its emissions stabilised, all other airports in Britain would have to cut their combined emissions by a third to comply with the Governments target.
CBT executive director Stephen Joseph, said: Just two weeks after Geoff Hoons announcement of these safeguards and already they are starting to fall apart. At the same time as he gave a confident assurance to Parliament that the industry would clean up its emissions, his own department was issuing a dire forecast of ever-rising CO2 emissions. Either the minister has not done his sums properly or he is so determined to expand Heathrow that he is willing to cap capacity at every other airport to do it.
Solihull MP Lorely Burt (Lib Dem, Solihull) warned: Skewing the aircraft industry towards the south-east is a mistake.
Meanwhile, a second ministerial aide has quit to fight the third runway at Heathrow, as Gordon Brown saw the Government's majority slashed to just 19 in a House of Commons vote on the controversial scheme.
Some 28 Labour MPs, including Selly Oak member Lynne Jones, rebelled to back a joint Conservative/Liberal Democrat motion against the third runway in the first Commons vote on the issue, which was defeated by 297 votes to 278.
While the Government avoided defeat, the debate was an embarrassment for Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon who had to listen to a string of angry protests from his own benches.
Among the rebels was Virendra Sharma, who quit as parliamentary private secretary to immigration minister Phil Woolas in protest at the noise and air pollution she said the Heathrow expansion would inflict on his Ealing Southall constituency.
Earlier in the day, another Labour MP from west London, Andrew Slaughter, resigned as a PPS in the Foreign Office to fight the runway plans.
The vote - which was not binding on the Government - was forced by the two opposition parties after Mr Hoon gave the green light to the third runway earlier this month without putting the question to the Commons.
Some 132 MPs - including almost 50 Labour - have signed an early-day motion protesting against the expansion of Heathrow.
* The 28 Labour MPs who voted for the Opposition call for a rethink on the third runway were:
Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington), Harry Cohen (Leyton & Wanstead), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North), Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne Central), Frank Dobson (Holborn & St Pancras), David Drew (Stroud).
Frank Field (Birkenhead), Paul Flynn (Newport West), Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North), John Grogan (Selby), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), Dr Lynne Jones (Birmingham Selly Oak), Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool Walton).
John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington), Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock), Bob Marshall-Andrews (Medway), Michael Meacher (Oldham West & Royton), George Mudie (Leeds East), Chris Mullin (Sunderland South), Gordon Prentice (Pendle), Nick Raynsford (Greenwich & Woolwich), Martin Salter (Reading West), Virendra Sharma (Ealing Southall), Alan Simpson (Nottingham South), Andrew Slaughter (Ealing Acton & Shepherd's Bush), Andrew Smith (Oxford East), David Taylor (Leicestershire North West).