We’ve recently had to step up our aviation campaigning as the issue has stormed back into the headlines.
We ran a high-profile campaign against the runway extension at BIA called flyagra which highlighted the many problems with extending the runway, while trying to use an amusing comparison with the type of dodgy extensions one is often suggested may be a good idea in spam emails. Unfortunately, the planning application was approved by Solihull Council, so until recent events it looked like there was nothing more we could do.
Firstly, there was the high court ruling on Heathrow’s 3rd runway stating that the aviation white paper from 2003 is now obsolete (which we’ve been arguing to be true for a long time).
Then came the scandalous news that BIA are asking for state aid from the local councils to get the A45 moved and make the runway extension possible after AWM pulled out of financing it.
It emerged that Birmingham City Council and Solihull MBC are planning to stump up £16m each at a time of cuts in public expenditure and job losses, especially in Birmingham. However, after seeing that we and the local press are looking at the legality of such a move, the council has made all reports on the matter and all discussions private. Yesterday I attended the cabinet meeting where the ridiculous decision to fund this was approved, but members of the public were excluded from hearing any of the debate around it or seeing any documentation about the route of the road, which we understand will not now be in a tunnel under the runway, but going around the perimeter of the runway.
Obviously, the council are concerned about public scrutiny of this decision as they feel they are on shaky ground so we now need to look into the legality of it, especially when taxpayers in the West Midlands could be getting so much better value for money by the council investing money in more low-carbon job creation schemes that would help tackle fuel poverty, meet climate change targets and improve the area’s economy.
We’ve alway argued that the economic forecasts for the expansion of aviation are flawed and this has been borne out by more recent reports on the loss to the economy potentially resulting from building Heathrow’s 3rd runway. There are very well-researched figures showing the tourism deficit from aviation to be very substantial indeed and if the industry’s projections of continued growth are correct will lead to £41bn being lost from the West Midlands economy from 2004-2020.
The volcano currently erupting in Iceland has given many people a different view on aviation, even if it is causing problems to many. We should not mess with Mother Nature, as she’ll always win and the fragility of our plans involving flying people and good across the planet as the default system for doing business, leisure activities or feeding ourselves has been shown and this cannot be the best way forward.
I agree with this blog post arguing that we can largely live without flying so planning ever-expanding aviation is wrong for everyone. It is essential that we keep up the pressure to ensure that this carbon-hungry white elephant of a scheme is not given the go-ahead.