Dear Editor, We welcome the editorial “BIA runway plan fails to take off” (Nov 12), in that it sets out some overarching reasons why state funding to enable the runway extension is a poor use of the public purse.
The EU is correct to highlight that state aid should not be a public subsidy to the aviation sector. The industry is feather-bedded enough without more public money supporting the proposed extension of the runway at Birmingham International Airport or aviation expansion elsewhere in the UK and the EU.
As world leaders discuss climate change in Copenhagen, it should be remembered that aviation contributes to climate change on the ground and in the air. These emissions are rising as the sector has developed. We must bring aviation into these negotiations and not by off-setting or promises of change. This will not be achieved through hidden subsides via Advantage West Midlands.
We would also remind your readers that many people in this country do not fly and the hidden costs of the tourism deficit are rarely exposed. Contrary to the industry’s claims about economic benefits, the UK runs a massive economic deficit from air travel. Foreign visitors arriving by air spent nearly £11 billion in the UK in 2004, but UK residents flying out spent £26 billion abroad – a loss to the UK economy of £15 billion; the West Midlands figure is around £1.6 million.
The significant thing that needs to happen in the UK is that the flawed Aviation White Paper of 2003 needs to be re-written to reflect the changes that have taken place in policy formulation. It needs to be climate-proofed and fit for purpose as we move forward and take our global responsibilities seriously.
Birmingham Friends of the Earth