Transport Secretary, Jeff Hoon announced today that an additional runway and terminal at Heathrow could go ahead. The Renewable Energy Centre released a statement warning that the consequences of such a move could be catastrophic.
Although not predicted to be in operation until 2020, the new runway will herald a significant shift in the amount of carbon and other damaging gases that the UK will emit into the atmosphere. It has been estimated by the Sustainable Development Commission that additional emissions could reach 8.64 million tonnes per year.
Greenpeace today said it would continue to fight against the plans as it believes completion of the new runway would eradicate any hope of the UK meeting the 2050 targets of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions. Although Mr Hoon stressed the importance of environmental controls both the Tories and campaigners said the restrictions ultimately would not help reduce carbon emissions.
The Renewable Energy Centre said that in order to counter the existing and additional emissions from aviation, the government would have to introduce legislation and measures which would actively reduce or counter the pollution. Richard Simmons, Managing Director said "The government cannot be a world leader in the race to save the planet on one hand while destroying it on the other. If the runway did go ahead the government would need to significantly raise air fare taxes to re-invest in renewables and all planes on all three runways would need to adhere to the "green" restrictions. Furthermore, UK households should be rationed to two flights of travel per year and a wealth of legislation on insulation, transport and greener living would need to be imposed."
He continued "None of these measures are likely to happen, nothing will be done to account for the current or additional emissions that Heathrow will bring and the UK will continue to be one of the worst contributors to climate change over the next 40 years. Today's announcement sends a clear message to the British public that the government is not genuinely serious about climate change at all. It sets the worst possible example to the public. If the government has ever been serious about the emissions targets they blurt out every day, then rejecting runway three would have been a no brainer!"
The Renewable Energy Centre said that the business and employment cases for the new runway were mere rhetoric when the consequences to climate change were considered and that yet again short sighted policy and "quick wins" were to blame. The Centre said it would support Greenpeace in their opposition and would encourage more people to join the Airplot campaign to help delay or even prevent progress of the project.
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