The Department for Transport, DfT, published a Scoping Document to consult the public on developing a new aviation policy under a sustainable framework, in March 2011. The Coalition considered the previous government’s 2003 White Paper, The Future of Air Transport, fundamentally out-dated and failing to adapt to the increasing climate change challenges. Being “not anti-aviation”, the DfT is calling for progressive policy scenarios that, on one hand, introduce tougher emissions standards, incentivise technological advancements, meet the increasing passenger demand, and improve well-being and quality of life, and, on the other hand, balance the benefits through empowering aviation’s economic role in tackling the budget deficit.

Birmingham FoE is conducting research to produce its response to the Scoping Document. The research is focused generally on the national trends , but particularly on the Regional Connectivity and Regional Airports section. In the interest of presenting a real case study, the investigation will use Birmingham Airport runway extension as a benchmark for some of the figures, which will support recent analysis that proved the negative economic, social and environmental implications of regional airport expansion. Not only that, but also Birmingham Airport already has unused capacity and thus the planned £25m public subsidy to the runway extension will be unlikely to increase passenger demand.

These implications will be reflected in the number of jobs created/retained in the aviation industry, balanced with the resulting tourism deficit in the local area. Moreover, such expansion will make meeting the CO2 emissions targets even harder, notwithstanding the continuing ignorance of including Radiative Forcing measuring in the assessments (this measures other impacts due to emissions being released high up the atmosphere).


The DfT published its Aviation Forecast last month, on which the responses to the consultation should be based. The assumption of expanding some regional airports was implicit in their analysis, so we need to argue against this and ensure Birmingham Airport does not become Heathrow’s 3rd runway. Furthermore, some assumptions around the future oil prices, economic growth, and consumer demand were overestimated and implausible. The emissions forecasting practices were not in line with recent research that has been able to make better estimates of the emissions from aviation. The assumptions of Biofuels penetration in the aviation market didn’t take into consideration the dangerous consequences on food prices worldwide and increased deforestation. These are signs of a fundamental detachment with the national and international climate agenda.

Alternatively, we will be supporting investments in better operational procedures, technological advancements, and behavioural measures that maximise the utility of the current airports’ capacity. This will help sustain the climate agenda and push economic growth and jobs creation toward more sustainable and responsible directions. Our submission will be made publicly available. If you would like to contribute to the consultation, you can do so by submitting your evidence-based response to DfT before 20th of October.

Link to the consultation: Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation

Link to the DfT Aviation Forecast 2011: