LETTER: UK needs to reduce aviation

Keyboard SUS-160615-124004001
Keyboard SUS-160615-124004001

Amber Rudd (Observer, October 28) has welcomed the decision to expand Heathrow, saying that it will create thousands of jobs and boost the economy.

Curiously – given that Ms Rudd was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change until a few months ago – she has nothing to say about the environmental impact of this grossly shortsighted decision, which will boost the annual number of Heathrow flights from 470,000 to 740,000 a year – an increase of over 57 per cent.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party (the only parliamentary party unequivocally opposing airport expansion) has said that the decision to expand Heathrow airport ‘tramples over the concerns of local people and puts a wrecking ball through the Government’s claim to be concerned about climate change’.

The fact is that this country simply cannot meet its Paris Agreement commitments to reduce carbon emissions if it expands airport capacity.

But we have a government which has caved in to the demands of airport lobbyists and decided that corporate profits are more important than the future of the planet.

Far from increasing capacity, we need to be drastically reducing it, by instituting a frequent flyer levy to reduce demand by heavily penalising those 15 per cent of people who take 70 per cent of all flights, and by having a properly functioning, nationalised, railway system which would make rail an attractive and practical alternative to short-haul flights.

In an interview in 2014, Amber Rudd described limiting global warming to under 2C as ‘one of the most important things we’re ever going to do’ (the Paris Agreement went further than this, stating that a 1.5C target was needed).

By welcoming the decision to expand airport capacity, she has shown very clearly that her views on climate change were no more than hot air. The fact is that if we’re going to leave this planet as a habitable environment for future generations, we cannot expand Heathrow, Gatwick or any other airport.

More than that, we need to take urgent action to reduce, not expand, aviation.

Andrea Needham

Hastings and Rye Green Party

Milward Road


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