Anyone can continue to express their objections to Eastleigh’s Councillors- you don’t need to be an expert and you don’t need to live in Eastleigh or Southampton. It’s much more effective to use your own words, and just writing a sentence or two is great. You can ask to speak for up to 3 minutes at the council meeting or send in an audiofile or written script. If you want some guidance there is a summary of our arguments against expansion below. You may also have your own experience of aircraft noise to draw on.
See our myth-buster blog post for more points.
The severe noise impacts are unacceptable
The airport’s revised figures show that 46000 local people will be affected by increased noise. The areas affected by noise already contain highly deprived areas, with lower income levels than Eastleigh generally. The mix of planes will change to more noisy ones. Anyone who remembers the noisy the weekly Easyjet flight to Geneva will know just how loud these A320 jets are. But rather a than 1 or 2 a week we will have 50-100 a DAY! This is the reality hidden behind the “average” noise increase.
Schools in the area will suffer. Reading comprehension drops below average levels at noise levels above 55 dB, and mathematical ability is also adversely affected above this threshold. The flight path over densely populated areas means Southampton is the worst airport in the country to expand in terms of the noise impacts per passenger flying out of the airport. We wouldn’t build a new airport here – so given all the spare capacity in the region there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for expanding Southampton.
Proposed noise ‘mitigation’ is trivial
The airport will offer money for insulation for the most affected areas, but this will be only 6% of those. The offer of a “community fund” (which at £2 per flight will amount to just £1.60 per person affected) cannot stop noise ruining our enjoyment of the outdoor spaces whose importance has been highlighted during the past year. The “noise cap” won’t mitigate anything. It is set slightly below the maximum number of passengers the airport thinks it can handle. It stops noise going ABOVE the level for 3 million passengers – a level the officer report calls “unacceptable wihtout adequate mitigation”. It doesn’t reduce it BELOW that level. What is needed is a cap on the maximum noise, which in parts of Eastleigh will be 85dB and in most of Bitterne Park 80db! It is extremely unlikely that many of the people who will be harmed will benefit from the development, with the Impact Statement admitting (1.17.2 table p1.51) “it is likely that the majority of users of the airport will not be residents of Eastleigh”. Even if all the promised new jobs were taken up by people from this area it would benefit only 0.7% of those affected.
More traffic and air pollution
Many of the approach roads are already congested and the increased traffic will only make this worse. All this traffic causes air pollution, quite apart from pollution from the aircraft themselves. It is now known that aviation produces Ultra Fine Particles (UFPs) which are even worse for humans than PM2.5 and PM10 as they can gain more direct access to the body, especially lungs and brain. Several studies have found that aviation is a source of such particles and that the impact of major airports on air quality has been underestimated.
It will make climate chaos worse
The development will lead to a massive increase in carbon emissions, at a time when we need urgent action to reduce these to avoid catastrophic climate change. The airport estimates that there will be an average annual increase of 370,000t carbon emissions. Added to the baseline 232,000t this amounts to 602,000t – the equivalent of the total emissions from Eastleigh Borough (608,700t). It makes a mockery of Eastleigh’s plans to reach zero carbon emissions and will destroy all claim to its being a “leader in trackling climate change”.
The only mitigation the airport offers is to make itself “carbon neutral”; this makes a trivial difference, not least because this doesn’t include the flight emissions and relies on “offsetting” (often highly dubious, involving projects that would have gone ahead anyway) rather than genuine reduction in emissions at source. The idea that emissions will reduce because people won’t need to drive to Gatwick is nonsense. Flight emissions are so much greater than road emissions that the savings will be trivial. Plus, the airport’s leakage analysis shows that 42% of local people wouldn’t fly at all if they couldn’t go from Southampton. The flight emissions from these people alone are many, many times greater than those of the people who do choose to drive to another airport. Meanwhile 8 airports in the UK are hoping to expand. They can’t all be doing so ny taking custom away from a competitor – they want to increase flying just when we need to reduce it.
It won’t be better in the future
Electric planes are unlikely ever to be large enough to require the extended runway. Alternative fuels such as hydrogen are decades away owing to the long development and testing timescales required. Even when they do become commercially available it is unlikely the low cost carriers that the airport claims to attract will use them until their existing planes reach the end of their lives. This could be two decades away. We can’t wait that long!
The industry’s proposals for reducing aircraft emissions (CORSIA, Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) has been weakened and delayed, and in any case relies heavily on “offsetting”. With no effective mitigation of carbon emissions at the international level and a vacuum in UK aviation policy, responsibility to reduce aviation emissions comes down to local action by local authorities like Eastleigh Borough Council.
Viability of the airport is not relevant to the decision
The airport is claiming that expansion is essential for its survival following the collapse of FlyBe. This forms no part of the planning application and the officers stated at the ELAC meeting that the viability of the airport is not relevant to the decision, however much it puts it about on social media. The claim that it is losing money and is closed at weekends is due to the loss of Flybe is nonsense. Other airports are in the same situation because holidays and most international travel are banned due to the pandemic!
An extended runway is not needed for the airport’s economic survival
Eastern Airways and other airlines rapidly took over the most important routes…even in the face of Covid-19! This includes a number of new routes announced since the Environmental Impact Assessment was submitted; e.g. Dublin as well as various holiday destinations. It could even be argued that compared with the airport’s previous vulnerability to loss of its one major customer, it will be in a stronger position with several different airlines already taking over these routes. London City Airport has an even shorter runway than Southampton, yet plans to attract modern small planes such as the A220 which are far quieter than the A320.
When you enter Eastleigh, the road signs say the town is ‘tackling climate change’. Now is time to see if that is true.