The Government has insisted that it is anti-carbon not anti-aviation as it launched a consultation on a new aviation policy which rules out new runways in London.
Unveiling the new policy document, transport secretary Philip Hammond said that transport needs to be greener and more sustainable. The new strategy would do this, he said.
“We must succeed, where the previous government failed, in striking that balance in our framework for aviation. As we tackle one of the largest budget deficits facing any of the G20 countries, we are firmly focused on the benefits aviation can bring, particularly in terms of economic growth. But we are not prepared to support growth at any price.”
Among the areas for consultation is how to improve the country’s existing airports. “Improving the passenger experience is at the heart of this Government’s vision for UK aviation. Our immediate priority is to make our airports better not bigger,” states the document.
Views on the role of regional airports are also sought. The policy document states: “Regional airports also have an important role in providing international and domestic connections across the UK, and contributing to local economies. We want to explore how to create the right conditions for regional airports to flourish.”
The document also confirms that the government will respond in July to the Committee on Climate Change report on options for reducing UK aviation carbon dioxide emissions out to 2050.
It states: “However, the aviation industry needs to do more, not just on CO2 emissions but also in terms of other polluting emissions and environmental impacts, particularly noise. The current pace of technological change is not fast enough to reconcile growth on the scale of recent years with meeting our climate change targets or, in relation to some airports, our objectives on local environmental impacts.”
“Aviation is a crucial part of this country’s transport infrastructure, it should be able to grow, prosper and support wider economic growth. But we are not prepared to support this growth at any price - the environmental impacts of flying - both local and global - must be addressed,” Hammond adds.
“However, it would be wrong to suggest that the Government holds all the answers. That is why this document asks a wide range of interested parties for their views on the key questions we face. Clearly we won’t agree on everything, but by working closely with key stakeholders at this early stage, we can provide a policy framework for aviation which strikes a balance between different interests.”
Comments are being invited on the scoping document until the end of September, and a draft aviation policy framework will then be published for consultation in March 2012, with a view to formal adoption by March 2013.