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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Staverton Airport and Martin Horwood's (MP for Cheltenham and Lib Dem Environment spokesman) opportunity for to put words into action


First of all congratulations on your excellent speech at the Climate Change meeting on Thursday. I am pleased that you recognise the importance of putting environmental survival before economic growth and your clarification that the Lib Dems are against all airport expansions.

You may remember that I caught you briefly at the end of the meeting in the foyer and asked for your opinion on the proposed expansion of Staverton Airport. You said that you understood from the management that the expansion was safety related, and said that you did not want to call them liars.

However, let me clarify:

The management has now clearly stated that their intent for this development is to expand the airport's operations with the aim of establishing scheduled routes from the Airport to other cities in this country and Northern Europe.

The management have stated that they wish to attract business jets to the airport. As you are probably aware, a large number of these "business jets" will be unnecessary pleasure flights of the ultra rich. Even if this were not the case, we should be encouraging businesses in this region to operate with the minimum carbon foot print and not try to attract them by the offer of dedicated runway facilities which will encourage the most carbon intensive mode of operation.

The airport has published their business plan and given outlines of the additional services which are expected to run. I have used this information to estimate the number of trees that are needed to offset the carbon that this will produce. It works out at approximately, 1.5 million trees.

The airport has used false arguments such as safety to justify their proposed expansion. However, it is only unsafe in its present configuration if they choose to operate larger planes from it. If it remains as a low carbon operation flying with only light private planes then there will be no elevated safety risk.

The argument made by the airport and will no doubt be made by the supporters of the expansion that because it is small, its impact on global warming will be negligible. This is nonsense and is equivalent to saying it is okay to rob the corner shop because it is small compared to the great train robbery. As was clear at the meeting, we need to find every way possible to reduce carbon emisssions and not allow any unncessary increases. In fact, because this airport is small, its economic benefit to the community will also be small and therefore it should be easy to manage with out it.

Copies of correspondence that I have sent to the airport management and the councillors of Tweksbury, Cheltenham and Gloucester are available on my blog, see;

I implore you to live up to your commitments and declaration on airport expansion and oppose this one on your doorstep.

Kevin Lister

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