In the Media – The Runway Saga – New Twists and Turns.


After the application for Birmingham International Airport’s (BIA) runway extension was approved, Advantage West Midlands was supposed to be providing £25 million to assist with moving the A45, but this didn’t happen, so now we are trying to ensure that taxpayers’ money is not spent on this when savage spending cuts are expected at Birmingham City Council. This has generated a lot of press column inches and here’s a taste of it:


In an article on the BBC website in November, Mick Laverty, Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands, said “I won’t pretend it’s easy to get the money into an airport project, these are heavily scrutinised projects and airport investment is scrutinised more than most investment.”


It seems they couldn’t get it passed, so the story switched to Birmingham and Solihull Councils jointly funding it and the scandal became public “The city council’s commitment to diverting the A45 has angered environmentalists, with Friends of the Earth describing the proposal as a ‘highly questionable use of public funds’.” (Birmingham Post, 31 March)


After the funding was approved in cabinet (in private without disclosing the evidence used in a private report) we were again quoted in the Birmingham Post dismissing the economic case: “How can we believe Birmingham Airport, a company whose own estimates range from economic benefits from the runway extension of £500 million to £1 billion and the creation of 21,000 jobs in some interviews, but down to only 2 500 in the most recent one?”


On 15 April an article said that “BIA, Birmingham City Council and regional development agency Advantage West Midlands have been rattled by a reinvigorated Friends of the Earth anti-runway campaign.” We view this as a compliment on how well we’ve got the issue back up the public agenda, indicating that we’re winning the argument.


An editorial on 23 April in the Birmingham Post bore this out as they described us as part of “the extremist green lobby” and said “The organisation should come clean about its agenda for Birmingham Airport, which it is safe to assume does not simply stop at opposing the runway extension.”


We responded, as did a few others in letters supporting our position, so the debate continues. We are building a bigger alliance now than before after Heathrow’s third runway has been cancelled and the attention for aviation campaigners nationally has switched to regional airports.


Joe Peacock