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Press Release: Campaigners from Across UK Join GALBA to Call on Gov to Stop Airport Expansion Plans

Aviation campaigners from across Britain join GALBA to call on government to stop all airport expansion plans

Today, the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) joined with 24 other campaign groups across the country to send an open letter to the government calling on ministers to re-think their policy of supporting an unconstrained growth of flying. They want the government to immediately stop all plans to expand airports to help the UK cut its greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and as quickly as possible. The letter was sent to Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation, and Michael Gove, Minister for Levelling Up and Communities and echoes advice from independent experts and national environmental organisations.

Chris Foren, chair GALBA, said: “It’s great news that Leeds Bradford Airport has dropped its planning application but other airports still want to increase flights - and the government supports them. That is absolute madness! We are at an unprecedentedly dangerous moment in human history. Every sector of the economy must halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if we are to preserve a liveable planet for future generations. But our government supports the unconstrained growth of aviation, which inevitably also means the growth of its emissions, during this decade.”

The letter supports advice recently given to the government by a group of leading environmental organisations, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. They urged the government to prevent any further expansion of airports until aviation emissions are actually falling and wider emissions are on track to keep global heating to no more than 1.5oC. Separate research by independent experts Element Energy has also concluded that “there should be no airport expansion until and unless it is clear that … [aviation] emissions… are on track to meet a fair emissions reduction for 2035 and beyond.”

Chris added: “The government’s hope that new fuels and new technologies will reduce aviation emissions sometime in the distant future is not based on any credible evidence - and anyway, it would be too late! The government’s own civil servants, independent experts and the Climate Change Committee all point out the very great uncertainties and high risks of over-reliance on scaling up these, as yet largely untested, new fuels and technologies. It’s deeply irresponsible to take such a gamble when we’re talking about the threat of climate catastrophe.”

“There is still time to make the right decisions for our planet and for everyone’s future. We sincerely hope that the ministers will take note of our letter and do the right thing.”

Additional notes:

1) Letter to Robert Courts and Michael Gove: the letter was initiated by GALBA and has been signed by 24 other aviation/climate campaign groups from across the country, including Manchester and Heathrow. You can read the letter here.

2) Expert climate policy advice on airport expansion:

  • Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) said last year, ​“There is not any space for airport expansion” if the UK is to meet its climate goals. The CCC’s policy recommendation is for ​“no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory and can accommodate the additional demand”. That test has not been met and will not be met for many years to come.

  • On 16 May this year, Element Energy analysed the policy options available to government to ensure aviation contributes proportionately to the UK’s target of cutting all green house gas emissions by 78% by 2035. They concluded that “there should be no airport expansion until and unless it is clear that both in-sector (aircraft technology) and out-of-sector (carbon removal) emissions reductions are on track to meet a fair emissions reduction for 2035 and beyond.” Element Energy has previously been contracted by the Dept for Transport to advise the government on its climate-related policy options.

  • On 18 May, an open letter was sent to Robert Courts by a group of large environmental non-governmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. They called on the Government to withdraw its policy support for airport expansion until aviation emissions are actually falling and wider emissions are substantially below a 1.5oC-compliant trajectory.

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