‘Not credible’: think tank verdict on airport expansion plan

New report claims co2 data presented to Eastleigh Councillors by Southampton Airport are 'not credible' . Report is 'misleading' says Airport Director.


Objectors to airport expansion protest at Southampton Civic Centre last year

A report issued by a national think-tank claims that Southampton Airport has underestimated the carbon emissions likely to be generated as a result of its current expansion plans and has called on the government to intervene – but the Airport director has defended the airports plans and has labelled the report as “factually incorrect” and “misleading”.

Eastleigh Borough Council has already given the airport permission to extend its runway but a new report by the New Economics Foundation has described the evidence presented to councillors as ‘not credible’ and says Southampton Airport has failed to account for up to £2.6bn worth of damage to the climate and that its expansion plan is likely to result in an increase of up to 654,000 tonnes of CO2 and CO2-equivalent emissions a year by 2035.

The report – which is also critical of expansion plans at Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Leeds Bradford and Stansted airports – says that Southampton’s data on potential carbon emissions assumes that the aviation sector will be using environmentally friendly technologies that are still yet to be developed, neither did it consider the possibility that these fuels and technologies may not be widely available.

The think tank also asserts that the plans for Southampton have not put a monetary value on the climate impacts of expansion and ignore the potential impact of higher carbon prices in the future.

Alex Chapman, researcher at the New Economics Foundation, called on the government to intervene:

“Our report raises concerns about the quality of the information decision makers were provided with when considering expansion applications. The Secretary of State should step in and conduct an independent review of all of these proposals and their compatibility with the UK’s climate targets.”

Richard Mould-Ryan, from airport expansion opposition group, AXO Southampton, agreed saying:

“This report backs up what AXO and others have said throughout the planning process, that the Airport’s expansion proposals would result in a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and Eastleigh Council failed take proper account of the environmental and economic impacts when approving the application.”

Steve Szalay, Operations Director at Southampton Airport defended the plans and told Eastleigh News

“This report is misleading and factually incorrect. We have delivered a worst-case scenario in the Environmental Impact Assessment presented during our recent planning application which would see just a 164 metre extension to our existing runway.

This conservative approach doesn’t rely on fuels or technologies that are under development and makes full provision for all in-bound and outbound flights.

We are wholly committed to working with the wider aviation industry to tackle climate change through new technologies and the introduction of new, more sustainable fuel, however we appreciate that there isn’t an overnight solution.”

The report “Turbulence Expected” is published by the New Economics Foundation