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'A new runway in south-east would bust our climate targets'.

Building a new runway at Heathrow could make it impossible to meet the UK's climate change obligations, as well as threatening the future of regional airports such as Cardi, two recent reports warn.

e rst report, by the Aviation Environment Federation and commissioned by WWFUK, argues that it is impossible to build an additional runway in the southeast and meet UK climate targets on aviation emissions, without cutting airport capacity elsewhere.

In practice, this could mean that many regional airports would need either to be closed or limited to operating fewer ights. is would conict with both government and commercial forecasts, which anticipate at least 200% growth by 2050, and also exacerbate the economic divide between the southeast of England and the other UK regions.

Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the Aviation Environment Federation, which wrote the report, said: "e Airports Commission and future governments have a choice to make: either allow aviation expansion in the southeast and heavily constrain regional airports, or let regional airports grow within the capacity they already have but don't build any new runways. Climate change limits mean that you can't do both."

Jean Leston, head of transport at WWFUK, said: "inking that you can build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick while still keeping to UK climate targets is being overoptimistic and using assumptions that are not based on the real world. When it comes to airport expansion, climate change isn't 'dealt with' as an issue."

In the second report, the RSPB argues that the Airport Commission's recommendation that the southeast can have one new runway and still be compliant with the UK Climate Change Act assumes that aviation emissions will be constrained by regulatory measures.

But the RSPB report argues that the regulatory regime is still aspirational or is so weak as to be ineective. It argues: "We are therefore basing our decision to build a new runway on a world as we would like it to be - rather than as it currently exists."

e report concludes that, in order to comply with the Climate Change Act, the only options are to manage future demand by increasing the cost of carbon, which would see fares soar, or constrain capacity at airports by ruling out any new runways.

RSPB economist Adam Dutton, author of the report, said: "e rest of the economy will be heavily penalised if emissions from aviation are not constrained. We estimate the cost could rise to as much as PS8bn a year and maybe more. When the rest of society is already being asked to decarbonise by at least 80% this is neither fair nor ecient."


Computer generated image of the planned third runway at Heathrow Airport

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 23, 2014
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