The latest report from the IPCC says transport contributes 27% of global CO2 in 2010 and the situation is getting worse. Giving up our flying habit is a key part of reducing these emissions, but instead the Government is pushing ahead with airport expansion and a new runway in the South East.
We think better transport should be about reducing air travel in favour of trains or not travelling at all. The Government should:
- Tax aviation fairly. Airplane fuel is not taxed at all; there is no VAT on air travel or even new aircraft. The Treasury estimates that this subsidises the industry by a staggering £10 billion every year
- Tax frequent fliers more heavily. With 70% of flights being taken by just 15% of people, air passenger duty should be replaced with a frequent flyer levy that taxes travellers according to how often they fly
- Withdraw support for airport expansion plans and seek EU agreement for slot auctions at congested airports
- Make rail a better alternative to flying. Rail travel should be a viable substitute for short-haul flights. But if rail is to compete, the Government must make rail fares cheaper, simpler and fairer
- Enable businesses to reduce their flights. The Government should encourage the take-up of teleconferencing technology, and improve trains with WiFi and power sockets to make rail a more practical option for business travel
In September 2013, Campaign for Better Transport, published ‘Heathrow and Surface Access Stress’. An important conclusion was that background growth in demand for public transport, from a larger population and number of jobs, is rarely taken into account in calculations about the capacity of surface transport networks to serve an enlarged Heathrow. An improved Piccadilly Line and the new Crossrail will be filled by the growth in population even without a new runway at Heathrow.
If the airport is enlarged as well, additional surface travel demand will have to be met by the road network which is already working at or beyond capacity. It is therefore likely that any substantial expansion of Heathrow risks bringing the M25 and M4 to a standstill, potentially cutting off South Wales and the West Country.
Surface access issues must be considered before not after decisions about airport expansion are made.
Although we are interested in avitation policy it's not a main focus of our work. For more information about aviation within the UK please go to Airportwatch. To find campaigners fighting airport expansion in the South East please go to HACAN Clearskies.