April 25th, 2019
As always, ELF is alive to clusters of enquiries and with the proposals for the third run way at Heathrow in mind, we were interested to see a spike in enquiries relating to regional airport expansion. In the last few months ELF has received 5 inquiries regarding regional airports. This is unprecedented. Four of those enquiries relate to the South of England; Bristol, Stanstead, Luton, and Southhampton. We wondered why this should be so. We have gone back to the National Policy Statement on airport expansion. This is the government’s long term policy on airports and it is all there; that in order to maintain our “Hub Status” we must expand capacity over the next 20 years to maintain the UK’s position as the busiest airport destination outside of the US. This includes regional expansion in the South East. The July 2018 NPS, is government policy that opens the door widely to what we are now seeing as regional airports apply for greater capacity. In Bristol planning permission in 2011, capped capacity at 10 mppa (million people per year), now under different ownership this current application is to increase capacity to 12 mppa. Luton expansion plans propose passenger numbers will increase from 18 million to 32 million a year. Stanstead has already approved an increase in capacity from 35mppa to 43 million. And Heathrow’s third run plans see passenger numbers rise to 130 million per year. Watch this space for Gatwick’s plans and their increase in capacity. The anomaly is that airborne climate change emissions are not taken into account in airport expansion plans in respect of local emissions from the planes themselves – it is only the “surface access”, that is road traffic which is considered. In light of the cumulative effects of regional south east airport expansion including Heathrow and its overall contribution to national C02 emissions, the fact that these air borne emissions are not included seems misleading and nonsensical.