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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Letter to Gloucester Echo in response to new business services from Staverton and copied to Councillors

Dear Editor,

Your article on "New Air Services" from Staverton confirms the worst fears about the airport expansion, and totally discredits the airports claims that the expansion is simply safety related which will have no environemental impact.

If the airport's claim that the runway extension is simply safety related is true, then it would imply that the airport has introduced a service that is dangerous to operate as the service is being introduced before the runway has been extended. In this case, the management should be reconsidering their position for putting their customer’s lives in danger. Clearly, no rational manager would knowingly put himself in this position. Their argument about safety being the issue only works because the management want to run additional larger planes that cannot be safely operated from the existing runway. Running additional larger planes from the airport is service expansion, what ever way you look at it. No sane and rational person could come to any other conclusion.

Despite the bad news from an environmental perspective, the article does at least confirm that a significant increase in plane movements from the airport is the true intention of the runway extension works and it eliminates any doubt that it is simply safety related. It further demonstrates the complete contempt that the airport and its backers have to the environmental impacts that their proposals will cause.

The airport's consultant Tony Norman says, "The new services will succeed and will mark the transformation of Gloucestershire Airport ." This is an unequivocal statement of the airports intent to expand. It is rather bizarre when the airport has continually tried to claim that the runway extension is simply safety related.

Tony Norman's position is further confirmed by Mr Filleul from who says that "the services will compete with Bristol and Birmingham airports." This again is an unbelievable statement as it is completely counter to airport's claims on its own web site where they say "We will never be competing with the major, 24-hour Airports like Bristol and Birmingham," when they were assuaging local concern on the environmental impact.

It is extremely worrying that even the Major of Gloucester (Councillor Harjit Gill) has allowed himself to be convinced by the airports argument when he says, "taxi drivers will get more jobs and the economy will benefit. I think it is wonderful." It has clearly not occurred to him that virtually all the roads in the area are already at grid lock for most of the time. It would also appear that he has not fully gotten to grips with the issues of global warming, even after the flooding of his city.

Given aspirations for service growth that the article outlines, then it is a reasonable assumption that at least 100,000 additional customers could be using this airport. The impact on the local environment would be catastrophic. The combined effect of additional traffic and aircraft pollution would force the NO2 far beyond safety limits. The airport would then follow the pattern of other airports in the country by becoming an asthma and respiratory problem hot spot. Unlike the airport’s recent claims that house prices in the area would rise, it is more likely that they would collapse as the quality of the local environment is systematically destroyed. It would be interesting if either the airport or its backers could point to a single case in the country where an airport had not adversely affected the local environment.

As well as the additional stress on the local economy and environment, the proposals for the airport’s expansion are madness in an environment where global warming is becoming an increasing risk to the very survival of today’s children. The science on global warming is clear and those that lead the decision making processes have an absolute obligation to ensure that they understand it. Supporting reckless proposals like this are an abrogation of responsibility.

Kevin Lister

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