One airport runway equals four hundred eco-towns according to local environmental pressure groups CO2 and 2M.
The government's environmental policy is nothing more than an "elaborate smokescreen" according to environmental campaigners opposed to the expansion of Stansted and Heathrow airports.
They say there is an inherent contradiction in increasing pollution through the expansion of two of the UK’s major airports while trailing the construction of fifteen potentially beneficial 'Eco-towns'.
Ministers announced last week that a site at Elsenham in Essex, situated just two miles away from Stansted, has been short listed to become one of the UK’s first Eco-towns. Fourteen other Eco-towns have been announced, each saving a potential 42,400 tonnes of carbon emissions per year in comparison with a non-Eco-town.
But the CO2 and 2M groups are pointing out that all 15 Eco-towns will save tiny amounts of carbon emissions in comparison with the increase in pollution from two new runways at Stansted and Heathrow.
Member of the CO2 Group and Leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield said:"BAA’s own figures for its Stansted planning application suggest carbon emissions will rise from the current 2.03 million tonnes to 9.19 million tonnes if a second runway at Stansted goes ahead."
"This means the expansion of Stansted to a two-runway airport will see four hundred times as much extra carbon emitted into the atmosphere as that potentially saved through the building of an Eco-town."
"It’s the 'Emperor’s New Clothes' in environmental policy. The contradiction between these proposed new Eco-towns and the government’s aviation policy is astounding," he added.
In the case of Heathrow, BAA say an extra 3M tonnes of carbon will be emitted per annum as a result of a third runway. This increased emission would dwarf the proposed saving in carbon by an Eco-town 69 times over.
Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister, speaking on behalf of 2M, said: "This is the great carbon con. The eco towns are an elaborate smokescreen. The government could have a much greater impact on emissions by simply standing up to BAA's insatiable demands for growth. There really is no evidence that the government is serious about tackling emissions."
CO2 is a group of local authorities containing who oppose the development of a 2nd runway at Stansted and the 2M Group is an alliance of local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion.