A new campaign to fight the expansion of Birmingham International Airport (BIA) was launched today by a partnership of environmental activists and local residents.

 

Birmingham Friends of the Earth and Birmingham Airport anti-Noise Group (BANG) have teamed up to create a tongue-in-cheek website, www.flyagra.co.uk, satirising the proposal to extend the airport's runway. A spoof spam e-mail advertising 'Flyagra, the revolutionary treatment that really keeps you up!' will direct web users to the site, which compares the runway extension plans to a dodgy 'male organ' enlargement treatment.

But, say campaigners, the website also has a serious message to convey: that airport expansion is bad news for local residents and the environment, and time is running out in which to stop the development going ahead.

In November BIA published its new development 'master plan' setting out the latest expansion proposals, including a £120 million 400-metre extension to the south-east end of the main runway and a third passenger terminal. If the airport company receives planning permission from Solihull Council to begin construction, the longer runway could be operating as early as 2012. Additional work to develop the airfield will allow BIA to handle 27.2 million passengers a year, three times as many as in 2006, by 2030.

Campaigners point to evidence that extending the runway and increasing runway capacity will result in a doubling of the number of local people exposed to significant aircraft noise pollution [1] and a trebling in aircraft carbon dioxide emissions from flights out of Birmingham. [2]

Birmingham Friends of the Earth campaigner Mary Horesh said:

"Last November's Airport Master Plan confirmed what many suspected: BIA has no credible climate change policy. Instead, we had only a token gesture of support for aviation's eventual inclusion under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and a handful promises to promote public transport and energy efficiency, none of which has any bearing on carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft. But we know that climate-changing emissions from BIA's operations are forecast to grow three-fold in the next twenty-five years if the airport expands as planned."

The Flyagra campaign will concentrate on lobbying Solihull Council to refuse planning permission for the airport's expansion.

Mrs Horesh added:

"As planning authority for BIA, Solihull Council will be under tremendous pressure from the business community and the other West Midlands local authorities to grant planning permission for the runway extension. But it would be highly irresponsible of Councillors to give the green light to a development that could send carbon dioxide emissions literally sky-high."

New lower forecasts of future growth in demand for flights at BIA mean that the controversial second runway is unlikely to be needed before 2030. But BANG and Birmingham Friends of the Earth warn that opponents of the Second Runway who are backing the runway extension as the 'lesser of two evils' should think again.

Secretary of BANG James Botham said:

"Extending Birmingham International Airport's current runway and increasing airport capacity will make the Second Runway more, not less, likely to go ahead in future. Local politicians hoping to position themselves as both 'pro-environment' and 'pro-airport' by on the one hand opposing a second runway while on the other hand backing the runway extension are unwittingly paving the way for the very thing they say they are against. The runway extension is merely 'phase one' of a long-term program of development culminating in a second runway, albeit later now rather than sooner."

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: Thursday 10th January 2007 
CONTACT
Chris Williams, Birmingham Friends of the Earth
Tel: 0121 632 6909

James Botham, Birmingham Airport anti-Noise Group (BANG)
Tel: 0121 632 6909

EDITOR'S NOTES

[1] Figures published in the Master Plan indicate that the number of residents exposed to aircraft noise at the level the Government deems to mark the onset of 'significant community annoyance' will grow from 26,800 people in 2006 to 55,150 people in 2030 if the plans go ahead. See Birmingham International Airport Limited, 'Towards 2030: planning a sustainable future for air transport in the Midlands', Airport Master Plan to 2030, November 2007, para.9.12. www.bhx.co.uk.

[2] A report released by the Department for Transport in December includes forecasts that carbon dioxide emissions from flights departing Birmingham International Airport will rise from 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005 to 3 million tonnes in 2030, if the airport grows as planned over the next twenty-five years. See Department for Transport, 'UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts', November 2007, Table G10: CO2 emissions at airport level 2005 and 2030 detailed, p117. www.dft.gov.uk

For more Birmingham Airport news stories, please see: http://www.uk-airport-news.info/birmingham-airport-news.htm
To see the planning application, please visit: