14/05/2013
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RSPB welcomes Transport Select Committee grounding of Thames Estuary Airport proposals

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The RSPB has today welcomed a recommendation ruling out, yet again, proposals for an airport in the Thames Estuary. The Transport Select Committee stated that the plans for a new hub airport in the estuary are too expensive and environmentally damaging, with specific mention of the hundreds of thousands of birds that make the estuary their home. The RSPB's Head of Conservation Policy, Dr Sue Armstrong-Brown, said: "Our fierce defence of the Thames Estuary has been recognised by the Transport Select Committee and we welcome their recommendations not to allow the development of an airport there. However, the committee's report goes on to state that there is a need to expand aviation in the southeast of England. It goes further and supports expansion at Heathrow. We are as opposed to that as we are to the inappropriate development of the Thames Estuary."

Knot
Knot: just one of the species likely to be affected by an airport in the Thames Estuary (Photo: Matt Thomas)

Sue added, "Having opposed London Mayor Boris Johnson, the main backer of an estuary airport, we now find ourselves united in our opposition to the Select Committee's recommendation for major expansion at Heathrow in west London. Our policies remain the same, but Mayor Johnson has today voiced his opposition to a third runway, or the new proposal of moving Heathrow westwards, on environmental and cost grounds. Exactly the same points we will be making."

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Aviation is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and by 2050 aviation could account for one quarter of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions, yet there are no targets to contain this, and these emissions are still not counted in the UK's carbon budget system. The committee were convinced of the economic necessity of expansion put forward by the aviation industry. This was despite the recent submission to the UK Government of a new report commissioned by the RSPB with HACAN and WWF from CE Delft. The study found that once a city reaches a certain level of "connectedness" further expansion is unlikely to significantly affect the economy. London already has six airports with seven runways and more flights than any other place in the world; as connected as it gets.

Written by: RSPB