Activists dole out free 'Flyagra' pills to Solihull shoppers
Local environmental activists fighting the proposed expansion of Birmingham International Airport (BIA) will be handing out free 'Flyagra' pills to Solihull shoppers on Saturday (16th February).
Campaigners from Birmingham Friends of the Earth and Birmingham Airport anti-Noise Group (BANG) dressed as pilots and air stewardesses will be offering the blue 'pills', in reality handy foam earplugs, to passers-by as part of a major ongoing campaign against the plans to extend the runway and increase airport capacity at BIA.
Birmingham Friends of the Earth and BANG launched the Flyagra campaign and website on Monday 7th January 2008, on the same day that the airport company announced it had applied to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council for planning permission to begin work on the 400-metre runway extension and supporting infrastructure.
The runway extension, which could be up and running as early as 2012, will increase the range of long-distance air services available from Birmingham, but environmentalists and local residents fear the development will lead to more noise pollution and climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft and airport-related road traffic. They also question the validity of the economic cost-benefit analysis of the runway extension carried out for BIA Ltd by consultants York Aviation.
Secretary of BANG James Botham said:
"We know from the official environmental impact assessment submitted by the airport company as part of its planning application that noise pollution and carbon dioxide emissions from the airport will increase over the next twenty-five years if the runway extension goes ahead as planned. Airport bosses and the local business lobby are happy to trade off the growing environmental impact against what they perceive to be the greater economic good. Consultants for BIA have concluded that the potential benefits of the runway extension outweigh the costs, but this analysis is flawed, mainly because the climate-change costs of the runway extension have been seriously underestimated. In reality, it is more likely that the economic and environmental costs of the runway extension outweigh the benefits."
York Aviation's cost-benefit analysis  included an estimate of the future economic cost of the extra carbon dioxide emissions from planes using the extended runway, when in fact the total global-warming impact of aviation is two to four times greater than the impact of aircraft carbon dioxide emissions alone. When we consider that, according to York's 'sensitivity test', the cost of aircraft carbon dioxide emissions would have to rise by only 36 per cent to reduce the net present value of the proposed runway extension to £0, it is likely that the true climate-change cost of the runway extension outweighs all the potential benefits of the development identified by York put together.
The campaigners want to encourage local residents to register their objections to the proposal with the Council while they still have the chance: the deadline for comments on the planning application is Friday 22nd February 2008. Solihull councillors have until the end of April to decide on the planning application.
 See http://www.flyagra.co.uk/.
 See York Aviation, Birmingham International Airport Proposed Runway Extension – Economic Impact Assessment, Final Report December 2007, pp32-43. http://tinyurl.com/2ggjew
 In June 1999 the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published 'Aviation and the Global Atmosphere', a comprehensive report undertaken jointly by independent scientists and experts from the aviation industry. The report concluded that the total climate-change impact of aviation is two to four times greater than the impact of aircraft carbon dioxide emissions alone. The full report can be viewed here, www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/sres/aviation/index.htm.
A 2005 scientific paper, 'Aviation Radiative Forcing in 2000: An Update of IPCC (1999)' by Sausen et al, confirmed the IPCC's previous assessment of the total climate-change impact of aviation. The paper can be viewed here. www.myclimate.org/download/2005_IPCC_update.pdf.