Yesterday the UK Government approved plans to build a third runway at Heathrow airport, and the Young Greens of England & Wales are standing strong and transparently against this decision. We are being sold the myth that a third runway is a necessary feature of growth in our country, but like with so many of the damaging and unnecessary plans approved by our Government, this decision will only go to serve a small elite; as recent figures show that 70% of UK flights are taken by just 15% of people. Heathrow expansion will benefit the privileged few who fly regularly, but will have seriously disastrous effects on local communities; through increased noise and air pollution, and on the environment – as London continues to maintain dangerously high air pollution levels.
In wake of the Prime Minister’s recent agreement to ratify the Paris Climate Change agreement, it seems totally backward for Theresa May and her Government to give the go-ahead to a project which will put Britain a good deal further back in our aims to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change. Green Party Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley commented on the decision: “The reality is that endless growth in our aviation capacity is incompatible with the UK’s climate change commitments. It’s also terrible news for local residents who will suffer enormously from increasing noise and air pollution”
The disastrous effect on public health is a significant factor of Heathrow expansion as the Office of the Mayor of London reported in March “the health impact of an expanded Heathrow as costing £20 to £25bn over 60 years. That reflects the increased risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia and other disorders shown to be linked to prolonged exposure to aircraft noise”.
The Co-Chairs of the Young Greens of England and Wales have added their concern about the decision taken by parliament. Co-Chair Sam Murray commented that “The government is irresponsible in seeking to dodge our domestic commitments to reducing emissions as seen in the Paris agreement and using emissions trading to justify the increase a third runway will bring. Climate change needs to tackled by drastic domestic action, the last thing we need is a third runway”
Fellow Co-Chair Hannah Clare further added: “The £1.5billion projected cost of the third runway could be invested in improving railways and making them a cheap alternative to flying, so our generation can grow up with cleaner and more affordable transport, instead of being left with the severe damage that this decision will cause.”
The Young Greens are opposed to the third runway at Heathrow and we ask our members to write to their MPs to join with Caroline Lucas in proposing a frequent flyer levy to encourage the use of more environmentally-friendly modes of transport and to prevent further environmental disaster for the UK.