Birmingham City Council is a major shareholder in Birmingham Airport, and has recently decided to give a large loan to Birmingham airport. This decision has not been discussed at a full council meeting and much of the detail is not available to the public.
In view of the climate emergency, we think this is a good time for the Council to influence the way the airport operates so that the city’s new priority to be “a city that takes a leading role in tackling climate change” is upheld and not repeatedly undermined. Conditions should be put on the airport on the back of providing a loan.
We urge you to contact your Councillors on this. HERE is an example letter to ask these questions of your Councillors. You may want to include only some of the points. The object is to get the Councillors to seriously consider the debate on these matters.
Do let us know of any replies received.
Dear Councillor _____________________
I am writing to ask you about the decision of the City Council Cabinet to make a large loan to Birmingham Airport. Most of the documents were confidential so the public can’t really find out about any terms and conditions attached to the loan.
The Council has committed itself to try to be carbon neutral by 2030 so surely can’t ignore the role that the airport and aviation play in producing greenhouse gases. As a large shareholder in the airport, should the Council not influence the way the airport operates so that the new priority to be “a city that takes a leading role in tackling climate change” is upheld and not repeatedly undermined?
Is this not a good time to put conditions on the airport on the back of providing a loan? The airport could be required to deliver on aspects of its operations that would improve rather than degrade the local area and reduce emissions.
For example, conditions could include local actions such as tree planting, noise reductions and more commitments to reducing the traffic that arises as a result of the airport’s operations.
Noise and traffic are among other ‘external’ costs that are placed on society and the wider environment. Surely these external costs should be put back on to the airport and the users of aviation services –on the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
Another condition would be that the airport agrees never to seek planning permission for a second runway.
A separate condition could be that current building projects on hold at the airport remain on hold until the operations at the airport returned to a certain level, to be agreed between the Council and the airport.
Most disturbing is that this loan is based on achieving (at some future time) ‘business as usual’ at the airport in terms of numbers of flights and passengers. This is what is being anticipated and planned for. Yet in terms of the climate emergency, it is clear that flights need to be reduced (eg internal flights for starters). So not only is this a risky loan, depending as it does on the uncertain recovery and future dividend, it is counter to our climate emergency priority actions..
To conclude, isn’t it time that the Council had an open discussion about these issues, especially when the airport is requesting large sums of money that the Council will have to borrow? Should this not be debated and voted on by the whole Council in the interests of democracy?
I look forward to your responses to my queries and any light you can shed on the matter.