Summary of Reasons for Opposing Airport Expansion
The airport plans to extend its runway in order to accommodate more and bigger aircraft. It forecasts a more than doubling of passenger numbers by 2027. This will increase noise and air pollution affecting local people and make it much harder to avoid catastrophic climate change.
NOISE: The World Health Organisation recommends keeping aircraft noise below 45dB, as levels above this have adverse effects on health, especially for children. Yet the airport’s own noise management plan shows that already over 5500 local people suffer noise twice this loud (55bB), and that after airport expansion even more will be affected by this level of noise.
TRAFFIC: The airport predicts a more than doubling of passenger numbers by 2027. Given that currently 71% of people arrive by car, that is a huge increase in traffic. The airport says it wants a decrease in the proportion of people arriving by car (to 61%) – yet still suggests the number of car parking spaces could double to accommodate the extra journeys.
AIR POLLUTION: Road traffic (see above) is the single biggest cause of air pollution, which is already bad in Southampton. The airport notes a study showing that pollution emitted by aircraft themselves is relatively small. Yet the study only looked at smaller aircraft, not the larger (and more polluting) aircraft that the expansion scheme intends to attract.
JOBS: The airport says 500 new jobs will be created onsite. Yet its 2006 masterplan claimed that by 2015 it would employ 1541 – in fact there were only 950. If the new forecast is a similar overestimate, the actual number of new jobs will be much smaller. Even taking the current predictions at face value, the number of jobs would increase by only 26% despite a doubling of passenger numbers. Given the obvious costs to local people, the benefits to Southampton residents seem disproportionately low.
SOCIAL JUSTICE: In the UK 70% of flights are taken by 15% of fliers (and since in any given year 57% of the population don’t fly at all this means 70% of flights are taken by just 7% of the population). It is unlikely many of these frequent fliers live under flight paths, meaning that those who will suffer the most from airport expansion are least likely to be among those who will benefit.
PUBLIC OPINION: The airport says a public consultation shows a majority in support of expansion. Yet only 396 people responded to this consultation, of whom 246 were in favour. However most of the negative responses were concentrated within Southampton – ie the area most adversely affected by airport activities. Already over 1000 Southampton people have signed a petition opposing expansion.
SUSTAINABILITY: The airport names its new masterplan “A Vision for Sustainable Growth.” Yet in the context of the climate emergency aviation expansion cannot be called sustainable. The airport aims to be “carbon neutral” by 2030 – but this aim does NOT include emissions from the airlines using it. Although aviation currently produces a relatively small proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, by 2050 it is expected to be the largest single emitting sector in the UK, and the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says if we wish to reach true carbon neutrality we must restrain airport growth. The airline industry’s proposals mitigation and for carbon offsetting are completely inadequate.
TREES: The airport says it must fell the old pine trees in Marlhill copse on the grounds of safety, even though these trees have been there for many years without problems. The real reason for felling them is to accommodate the larger aircraft the runway extension is designed to support. Trees in Mansbridge Open Space (old reservoir) are also at risk.