The airport’s last masterplan in 2006 [https://www.southamptonairport.com/media/1051/southampton_masterplan_final.pdf ] claimed there would be 1541 people directly employed at the airport by 2015. In 2015 this number was actually 950. This time (2019) the airport claims there will be 1200 jobs at the airport by 2027. Taking the same % overestimation as was made in 2006, this would mean that by 2027 the airport would be employing 740 people. Therefore taking the airport’s own track-record on predictions would mean that airport expansion would result in the loss of over 200 jobs. Which are we to believe – more jobs or fewer jobs?
Taking the current predictions at face value: passenger numbers at SOU are predicted to more than double by 2027 (124% rise from 2015). However those employed by the airport will rise by only 26%. Given the obvious costs to local people (noise, pollution and their share of the climate crisis), even the best case scenario of the benefits would be disproportionately low.
In 2004 Southampton airport’s figures report it emitted 147 tonnes of NOx (which forms acid in the lungs). In 2014 it emitted 182 tonnes of NOx. According to the airport its passenger numbers remained the same and the number of air transport movements slightly decrease [Table 7.2 Amec Foster Wilson (2016)]. We are still trying to make sense of this, but so far it looks like this increase in aviation pollution may coincide with more jets than turbo-props being flown over this period. As the purpose of the expansion is to fly more Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 jets, this does not look good for the health of local people.
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) figures for the jet engine used in the A320 is for NOx emission of 5231g over the test cycle (called a LTO). Southampton airport’s figures for the Dash 8 turboprop (the most polluting of the aircraft listed in its top 10 of aircraft used at Southampton) is only 1616g per plane. Therefore one of the jet engines that the airport wants to use more of releases (according to airport and international figures) at least 3 times more NOx than the engine of the currently most flown plane.
London City Airport (LCA) had claimed that the new generation of aircraft would be 14 decibels quieter than the older planes. But measurements taken for the airport by independent consultants contained in a report for London City show the new aircraft to be only 2 or 3 decibels quieter than the equivalent planes currently using the airport. https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A15b51eb7-0f32-4d3c-9317-c01ea1fae5c1 Southampton airport also promises a new generation of ‘quieter’ aircraft but has not offered evidence to support this assertion. On the contrary, the noise footprints for 2021 and 2037 shown in the draft (2018) and final (2019) masterplans are predicted to expand from the already unhealthy levels experienced by around 5,600 local people who are exposed to twice the levels of aircraft noise that the World Health Organisation says is safe (section 3.3. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/383921/noise-guidelines-eng.pdf?ua=1
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) reports that NOx emissions have shown a steeper upward trend than CO2 in recent years. In 2004 the total European aviation NOx emissions were 541 Kilotonnes. In 2014 this was 642 Kilotonnes – a 19% rise. The increase at Southampton (see above) over this period was 24%.
EASA predictions indicate that the advanced engine NOX technology scenario could lead to a downward trend after 2030. However this is after Southampton airport predicts it will have doubled its passenger numbers to 4 million. Until then, local aviation NOx rates will continue to climb, particularly with the use of the more polluting jets that Southampton airport plans to use.
The Government’s consultation [Aviation 2050] on the future of UK aviation has shown that aviation’s share of total greenhouse gas emissions could go from the current 7% to 25% by 2050 – when it is likely to be the single greatest offender. Lord Deben (the Chair of the Government Committee on Climate Change) recommends that everyone’s appetite for air travel should be curbed and that airport expansion needs to be curtailed. For Southampton airport and local Councils to even contemplate an expansion in these circumstances is irresponsible.
According to the European Aviation Environmental Report (2016), NOx emissions from aviation have doubled between 1990 and 2014, and their relative share has quadrupled, as other economic sectors have achieved significant reductions. Aviation NOx are scheduled to grow by a further 43% between 2014 and 2035.