Thanks to your support in the AXO campaign so far, we have gained 1900 validated signatures in the petition to Southampton City Council. This will trigger a debate at Southampton City Council’s meeting on Wednesday 20th November 2019, 2pm.
We will be presenting the following supportive evidence alongside the petition. For the PDF version, click here.
Please join us there.
Southampton International Airport Expansion
Background to presentation to Council in respect of over 1500 signatures on petition calling on the Council to oppose airport expansion
The airport plans to extend its runway in order to accommodate more destinations for larger aircraft and to more than double passenger numbers by 2037. This will increase traffic, noise and air pollution affecting local people and make it much harder to avoid catastrophic climate change. We therefore call upon the City Council to object to the application when it is published by Eastleigh Borough Council, for the following reasons:
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 5600 local people suffer noise twice this loud (55bB), and that after expansion even more will be affected at this level. The airport proposes to offer noise insulation to residents within the 63dB contour – a level that is 3.5 times louder than the WHO guidance. But noise insulation will only work if residents don’t want to open their windows or sit in their gardens.
TRAFFIC & AIR POLLUTION: The airport predicts a more than doubling of passenger numbers by 2037. Given that currently 71% of people arrive by car, this is a huge increase in traffic. The airport says it wants a decrease in the proportion of people arriving by car (to 61%) – although it has no control over this, and still suggests the number of car parking spaces could double to accommodate the extra journeys, with 600 more in the first phase. It is questionable whether peak time trains, which already run at full capacity, can accommodate the proposed increase, meaning that most of the increase will be on our already badly congested roads. The airport says its modelling shows that passenger numbers can grow to 3 million “without significantly impacting the road network” – yet it plans for 4 million passengers by 2027 and 5 million by 2035. Road traffic is the single biggest cause of air pollution, which is already bad in Southampton. Aviation contributes an additional amount. We note that the study used by the airport showing aircraft contribute just 1.7% of NO2 emissions only looked at smaller aircraft, not the larger aircraft (whose engines are at least three times more polluting) that the expansion scheme intends to attract in larger numbers.
SUSTAINABILITY: The airport is a signatory to the Green City Charter and aims to be “carbon neutral by 2030” – but this is limited to their own activities and crucially does NOT include emissions from the airlines using it. Moreover their carbon reduction plans state that they intend to reduce carbon emissions by only 10% (to 60,000 tonnes) by 2037. This reduction is dwarfed by the huge (350,000t) estimated increase in carbon emissions from airlines using it – ie an increase nearly 60 times the amount the airport plans to save. For comparison, in 2017 according to the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, homes and industry in the entire city of Southampton (excluding the port) emitted 534,000t. Aviation is expected by 2050 to be the largest single emitting sector in the UK, and the Committee on Climate Change says if we wish to reach carbon neutrality we must restrain airport growth. Airline industry proposals for carbon offsetting are completely inadequate. Electric planes will never be able to replace the larger jets that the expansion is aimed at attracting. Regardless of the airport’s “carbon neutrality”, expanding it will make a mockery of the Green City Charter.
ECONOMY & SOCIAL JUSTICE: The airport says 500 new jobs will be created onsite. We note that its 2006 master plan 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. 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. Those who will suffer the most from airport expansion are least likely to be among those who will benefit. The wider benefits on the economy of increased passenger numbers are questionable, given that the airport’s figures show that in 2018 only 30% of flights are for business and that most (78%) begin as outbound flights by local people rather than by people from outside the area travelling in.
PASSENGER NUMBERS: The airport says it is responding to predicted demand. However, its figures show that numbers peaked in 2007 before falling during the recession, only rising again after 2012. Numbers fell again earlier this year and it is by no means clear that there is much current demand for additional flights. Instead it is more likely that the airport hopes to induce demand by creating more capacity – in the same way that building roads attracts more traffic (and Southampton intends to attract more cyclists by building cycle infrastructure).
PUBLIC OPINION: This presentation to Council is possible because we obtained 1900 signatures on our petition. The airport quotes its own public consultation in which a majority support expansion. Yet only 396 people responded to this consultation – from an area which extends as far as Portsmouth, Andover, Salisbury and Poole. Most of the negative responses were concentrated within our city, i.e. the area most adversely affected by airport activities. We do not believe the airport’s data shows the majority of Southampton residents are in favour of expansion.
Please join Twyford Parish Council in opposing this expansion.
Angela Cotton, on behalf of AXO (Airport eXpansion Opposition)
Airport’s own figures taken from documentation available at https://www.southamptonairport.com/masterplan/ and https://www.southamptonairport.com/media/6029/southampton-airport-public-information-session-materials.pdf
Air pollution data: Southampton International Airport Air Quality Assessment 2016 Amec Foster Wheeler