Stick to sustainability targets if airports expanded, says Labour
The government must make airports stick to climate change and noise reduction obligations made by the Davies Commission if it permits expansion, the new Shadow Aviation Minister has said.
Speaking a fortnight into his job, Richard Burden MP said expansion of Heathrow or any other South East airport should meet climate change obligations and show that noise problems could be managed in line with targets to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment.
Addressing an event at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, Burden said airports faced renewed scrutiny about their effects on the environment following the Volkswagen car emissions scandal: “Not only are we as an opposition wanting answers, but the public will be. People will be saying ‘prove it, show us how’. The VW issue is about air quality. Air quality is moving up the agenda.”
Burden, whose constituency is in Birmingham, declined to say where he stood on the expansion of Heathrow. “I’ve absolutely an open mind,” he said.
However, he urged a broader approach to the issue of transport in general and said Labour would have created a National Infrastructure Commission if it had been elected. “The national and international transport network has to mesh.”
His comments were echoed by Birmingham airport chief operating officer David Winstanley, who said early flight departures needed better support from ground transport. “We encourage people to check in at 4am, but there’s no buses or trains to get them there, so the roads get clogged up with cars.”
He added that he was in favour of a new runway in the South East, but warned that the intervening 15 years before it was operational would be problematic, particularly if the government delayed a decision. Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will announce his recommendations by the end of the year.
“A decision has to be made,” Burden urged.