25th March 2013

New aviation policy is a hollow sham

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has dismissed the Government’s newly published ‘Aviation Policy Framework’ as little more than a hollow sham. The long-awaited document, made public on 22 March, sets out the Government’s approach towards the future development of UK aviation and the measures it intends to take to control aviation’s environmental impacts.

However, says SSE, the new framework is noticeably lacking in any meaningful measures to control noise, air pollution or climate change, adding to condemnation by airport community campaign groups and national environmental organisations across the UK.

Top of the list of failures is the framework’s adherence to discredited methods for measuring aircraft noise disturbance – not least in rural areas with low background noise such as Stansted. This is compounded by the exclusion of emissions, other than carbon, in assessing aviation’s climate change impacts and an absence of any new measures to tackle air quality problems. There is hardly any mention of the destructive impact that any expansion would have on landscape, heritage and local communities.

Ministers had claimed during the consultation phase that the new policy framework would pave the way for action, making special mention of the need to address community concerns about noise. This raised hopes that a tougher approach would finally be introduced to tackle the aviation industry’s worst impacts.

SSE Chairman, Peter Sanders, commented: “We are naturally disappointed that the Aviation Policy Framework is so ineffective and unhelpful but we are not entirely surprised. The Department for Transport has always tended to support the unfettered expansion of aviation and has never taken its environmental responsibilities very seriously.”

He continued: “The only consolation is that this new policy is silent on the issue of airport expansion. Responsibility for that issue rests with the Airports Commission and we are now very much focused on convincing the Commission that there is no case for major expansion at Stansted, particularly given the irreversible destruction of historic landscape and heritage which this would bring.”

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport