Airport expansion is damaging to the environment and communities, and will damage our tourist economy say Greens

In a statement, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Convenor of the Green Group of Councillors said:

“The expansion of any airport- whether Heathrow or Gatwick promises to pollute our skies further, break our climate change promises and puts big businesses before communities and our environment.

“Standing in favour of airport growth, as the Labour administration has done locally, does not mean standing in favour of local businesses and communities. In fact, 60% of flights at Gatwick are leisure related to other parts of the UK [1] so expansion of the airport would only entice visitors away from spending money in our city which would negatively impact on our local tourist economy. Our city has seen a large drop in visitor numbers since Labour took power and we believe we should be spending our energy making the case for more visitors to come to the city.

“Further a myth is peddled about how airport expansion benefits those with least in society when ¾ of leisure travel is by the richest people in society and over half of the British population don’t fly at all. Only 15% of the population take 70% of the flights. Air travel has paid no tax for 70 years [2]

“Transport for London put the cost of expanding Heathrow to taxpayers at £15bn-£20bn to provide associated infrastructure and there is no question it would cost us at Gatwick too. On the one hand, we are told that we have to tighten our belts but somehow there’s always the cash to throw at airports. Airport expansion happening at the same time as we have meltdown across public transport is madness. The fact that you can often fly cheaper than taking the train and anyone who has taken a train to or from Brighton and Hove recently knows we desperately need investment in public transport infrastructure.

“A healthy economy can only happen with a healthy environment so the protection of the environment, in turn, protects the economy. What good will any expanded airport be if we are too unwell to feel any benefits? The government is in court this week for failing to cut air pollution and any expansion of airports will only mean our air is more polluted as our climate change commitments go unachieved.

It is a shame that for our government and locally, commitments to our environment are little more than lip service.”



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