Alan Whitehead welcomes 'change in stance' by Southampton Airport
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Green New Deal and Energy, has predicted Southampton Airport could have a greener future as a regional hub of a ‘green aviation network’ in an era of low carbon flying.
The planning application to extend the Airport’s runway has been fiercely opposed by local campaign groups because of the climate damage caused by extra Co2 emissions likely to be generated by an increase in larger aircraft flying from Southampton.
But in an interview with Eastleigh News, Shadow Minister Alan Whitehead, who is also MP for Southampton Test, told reporter James Johnston that while he felt that Southampton Airport’s original plans to extend the runway was simply to accommodate larger aircraft he still welcomed what he described as a ‘change in stance’ in airport’s approach to its development plans that could possibly lead to a more sustainable future.
“There is a wider issue at the heart of this; what is the role of airports in the future of low carbon flying? We are going to have to change the nature of flying as we can’t just continue putting more and bigger planes into the air, taking up more fuel with more emissions over the long term.
The question of the role airports will play where you have different kinds of flying envisaged and different kinds of fuel with possibly hydrogen or biofuel powered planes – which probably won’t be the largest aircraft – so there is potentially a substantial role for regional and smaller airports in providing ‘green aviation networks’ and that’s what I would want to see Southampton Airport develop into.
There is a question of whether you’d need a longer runway to do that.
Southampton Airport was initially was saying they needed a runway extension simply so they could take a lot of larger passenger aircraft but they’ve actually changed their stance since and are looking to develop the airport in different ways.
The nature of this airport and airports in general needs to change – we certainly don’t need a third runway at London Heathrow Airport – but whether the role that regional airports can play in a different form of flying requires a different layout of the airport.
I thought on balance that the case for the runway extension hadn’t been made at an earlier stage but it’s good that the airport is beginning to look at how it can change its role as an airport and adapt itself to up-to-date ideas about how flying should be accommodated into a sustainable paradigm.”