“The fight goes on – what our MPs said about expanding the airport and update on the airport application to lengthen the runway
AXO – Airport eXpansion Opposition Southampton – wrote to all the candidates standing to be MP in each of the local constituencies to garner their views on the airport expansion plans. These are their replies:
Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, said, “the main issue in this part of the world is potential expansion of Heathrow airport and the third runway. Regional airports do have a positive role in providing alternatives to these big airport hubs alongside a reduction in air travel. That said in the case of Southampton there is not enough evidence to me that the positives outweigh the negatives and so I am opposed. “
Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen speaking on Radio Solent said, “ I am neutral about the airport expansion. I have informed people living in my constituency how to make their views known about these plans.”
Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North said, “I absolutely concur there is a climate emergency and we all need to do more to reduce emissions.
However, when it comes to the expansion of Southampton airport I would like to see a thorough analysis of whether regional airport expansion reduces the likelihood of people needing to travel to hub airports like Heathrow and Gatwick and thus might be less of a negative than one might assume.”
AXO counters this argument with the knowledge that other small regional airports are also applying to expand, e.g. Bristol airport. It is clear there is a national push to increase the numbers flying when this should be discouraged in order to reduce the air and noise pollution over towns and cities across the UK.
AXO has analysed the data on the jobs that will be created and seriously questions whether these jobs will in fact materialise. Balancing more jobs against the impacts on 25000 people having much louder planes over their houses does not sound like a fair trade off.
Paul Holmes, MP for Eastleigh said he is in favour of airport expansion within the provision that actions are taken to reduce pollution using technology, “Yes. However this on the basis that Southampton Airport implements its plan to reduce carbon emissions on site. Additionally, the airport must commit to working with the airline industry to reduce noise and environmental pollution whilst encouraging innovative and new technologies, both on the ground and on aircraft using the area. There must also be significant improvements in the infrastructure to mitigate an increase in passenger numbers. “
From these responses it appears there is a clear political divide on this issue but at a local level the application will be heard in a Liberal Democrat authority and in Southampton the Labour leader of the council, Chris Hammond, has spoken in favour of airport expansion.
The arguments against expansion focus on the climate crisis that our earth is experiencing and the need to reduce our carbon emissions as well as the impact on people living under the flight path. Aircraft emissions are set to be the biggest cause of CO2 emissions by 2050 unless drastic changes are made as soon as possible.
Eastleigh Borough Council has extended the deadline to comment about these plans – it is now 3rd January 2020. There will be a specially convened meeting to determine this application; the date is yet to be announced.
In Southampton after an abortive full council meeting where councillors did not express their views on the application due to concerns about the process being “quasi- judicial” there will now be a planning and rights of way meeting in January, but as this will be after the closing date for comments to EBC AXO wonder how this will be taken into account. Katherine Barbour, AXO spokesperson, said “ this application has been made at the time of year when people focus on family and having a break. AXO will not stop its campaign because of the season. The fight goes on.”
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