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Unions join the fight against Heathrow expansion

10 October 2008
Campaign for Better Transport [1] today joined with six unions and nine organisations [2] to condemn plans for airport expansion. The groups say that if the Government pushes ahead with expanding our airports, the UK will never be able to meet the new target of cutting emissions by 80% by 2050 [3] and play its part in fighting climate change.

What's more, UK businesses do not need bigger airports in order to thrive. Business travel accounts for a quarter of passenger trips by plane, but research into alternatives to aviation [4] launched today (14 October) by Campaign for Better Transport reveals that businesses already attribute many benefits to alternatives to air travel such as rail travel and teleconferencing. By improving these alternatives, the new Transport Secretary can create jobs, generate business and help in the fight against climate change.

The research found that part of the 80% cut can be achieved by tempting air passengers onto low-carbon alternatives such as trains. A north-south high-speed rail line would be particularly effective in cutting short-haul business flights, as business travellers are concerned about journey time, choosing to fly if the same journey would take more than three hours by train. More and better on-board facilities for business people, such as Wi-Fi services and power points, as well as airport-style lounges at stations, would also make rail travel more attractive.

The need for many business trips can be removed by advances in teleconferencing technology. In the past, it was thought that teleconferencing increased business flights. But all of the businesses surveyed for Campaign for Better Transport's report said that teleconferencing can reduce the need to travel. This shift highlights the necessity for Government to rethink the supposed need for airport expansion. This need could be reduced still further if the Government worked closely with businesses to increase the take-up of teleconferencing technology.

Jason Torrance, campaigns director at Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"The Government must scrap plans for airport expansion and assist businesses in moving towards a low-carbon economy. If we are to have any hope of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 investment must be put into alternatives to air travel to give people and businesses real choice."


Notes for editors

[1] Campaign for Better Transport works to secure transport policies and programmes that improve people's quality of life whilst reducing environmental impact.

[2] Campaign for Better Transport has been joined by UNISON, five other unions and nine organisations in placing an advert in the national press (14 October). Organisations supporting the advert are ASLEF, Campaign for Better Transport, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Connect, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, HACAN ClearSkies, NoTRAG, Public and Commercial Services Union, Restore UK, RMT, Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, UNISON, World Development Movement and 2M group.


The advert (PDF, 670K)

[3] http://www.theccc.org.uk/downloads/Interim%20report%20letter%20to%20DECC%20SofS.pdf

[4] The research in full (PDF, 1.23MB) or a two-page summary (PDF, 36K).