Building a new runway at Heathrow could threaten the future of regional airports such as Cardiff because of its effects in raising aviation-related emissions, a report published today warns.
The report by the Aviation Environment Federation, commissioned by WWF-UK, argues that it is impossible to build an additional runway in the south-east and keep aviation emissions consistent with meeting UK climate targets, without cutting airport capacity elsewhere.
In practice, this could mean that many regional airports would need either to be closed or limited to operating fewer flights. This would conflict with both government and commercial forecasts, which anticipate at least 200% growth by 2050, and also exacerbate the economic divide between the south-east of England and the other UK regions.
Cait Hewitt, the deputy director of the Aviation Environment Federation who wrote the report, said: “The Airports Commission and future governments have a choice to make: either allow aviation expansion in the south-east and heavily constrain regional airports or let regional airports grow within the capacity they already have but don’t build any new runways. But climate change limits mean that you can’t do both.”
Jean Leston, head of transport at WWF-UK, said: “Thinking that you can build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick while still keeping to UK climate targets is being over-optimistic and using assumptions that are not based on the real world. When it comes to airport expansion, climate change isn’t ‘dealt with’ as an issue.”
In another report, the RSPB argues that the Airport Commission’s recommendation that the south-east can have one new runway and still be compliant with the UK Climate Change Act assumes that aviation emissions will be constrained by regulatory measures
But the RSPB report argues that the regulatory regime is still aspirational or is so weak as to be ineffective. It argues: “We are therefore basing our decision to build a new runway on a world as we would like it to be – rather than as it currently exists.”
The report concludes that, in order to comply with the Climate Change Act, the only options are to manage future demand by increasing the cost of carbon which would see fares soar or constrain capacity at airports by ruling out any new runways.
RSPB’s economist Adam Dutton and author of the report, said: “The rest of the economy will be heavily penalised if emissions from aviation are not constrained. We estimate the cost could rise to as much as £8bn per year and maybe more. When the rest of society is already being asked to decarbonise by at least 80% this is neither fair nor efficient.”
Sourced from Walesonline