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Shadow Transport Secretary promises airport expansion

Delegates gathered at London’s City Hall for Let Britain Fly’s Sustainable Airports Summit, which was hosted by Val Shawcross CBE, Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark and Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee.

Speaking at the Summit, Shawcross praised the economic benefits London’s airports brought to the city, but also emphasised the need for better surface access, transport planning, and an Aviation Noise Authority to deliver an airports system that works for everyone.

Keynote speaker Mary Creagh MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, pledged to deliver on airport capacity, saying Labour was the only political party promising airport expansion in the South East.

She added that Labour would put the economy first when it came to considering infrastructure, while asking all stakeholders to consider improvements in aircraft technology that will be delivered over the next decade, before any new runway can be delivered.

The afternoon’s first session tackled the issue of surface access to airports, and how improvements to rail links can reduce air pollution as well as encouraging investment in the surrounding area.

The summit heard from representatives of TFL and Network Rail, as well as proponents of the Gatwick, Heathrow and Heathrow Hub proposals for expansion at London airports on how their schemes would deliver additional capacity with improved transport links.

A representative from Manchester Airports Group spoke to encourage utilisation of the existing capacity at Manchester and Stansted Airports, which would be aided and encouraged by upgraded rail links.

The next session brought the issue of carbon emissions to the fore, featuring expert opinions from Adrian Gault, Acting Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change; Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association; and Professor Ian Williams, Head of the Centre for Environmental Sciences at Southampton University. They discussed demand and emission scenarios, and the potential for further efficiency improvements to both engines and aircraft.

The day closed with a session on the political deliverability of sustainable airports with a session featuring former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, and Chairman of the London Assembly Roger Evans AM. Livingstone’s speech drew on his experiences working with both central and local government and how delays to major infrastructure policies could potentially be overcome.

He said it was “ridiculous” how difficult he had found it to get the green-light on infrastructure projects when Mayor, joking that he had to take Ed Balls out for two bottles of wine before he could get the thumbs up for Crossrail.

In his address, Roger Evans called not only for politicians to win back the public’s trust, but also for airports and airline manufacturers to clearly communicate improvements in technology to the public.

In bringing together groups from all sides of the debate to discuss issues including rail upgrades, carbon targets and the process of political decision making, the Sustainable Airports Summit tackled the major issues and debates that will continue to rise to prominence ahead of the Airports Commission’s final report due after the 2015 General Election. If you don’t already, we encourage you to follow the Let Britain Fly campaign on Twitter to keep up with all the latest developments in the airports policy debate.

 

Contact: Gavin Hayes, gavin@letbritainfly.com

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