AIRPORT: HEATHROW ON YOUR DOORSTEP: A Blight on Rural England; AIRPORT PLANS

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), November 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

AIRPORT: HEATHROW ON YOUR DOORSTEP: A Blight on Rural England; AIRPORT PLANS


A GOVERNMENT roadshow came to Warwickshire this week to tell people why transport chiefs are considering a huge new airport between Coventry and Rugby. In response, the Evening Telegraph invited PETER LANGLEY, regional chairman of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, to outline his views on the plan.

WITH a month left of the government's consultation period on airports, it's time to take stock.

If this was solely a Midlands decision, the Rugby Airport proposal would already be a dead duck. I know of no local authority or regional organisation which has come out in favour: even the local chamber of commerce overwhelmingly rejected it.

These organisations recognise that the dubious economic benefits, offset by the closure of Birmingham and Coventry airports, would be massively outweighed by costs to the environment and people's lives.

It is the wrong proposal in the wrong place - like putting a lion in the antelopes' cage and expecting them all to live happily ever after!

But this is a national decision. The government may stick doggedly to growth at all costs, ignoring those who say the forecasts are exaggerated and that meeting demand in full must be balanced against quality of life.

If they decide that the opposition to new runways in the South-east is too strong to take on, they could ignore Midlands opinion and dump this monstrosity on Coventry and Rugby.

So our efforts to tell the government what we think of their proposal must be unrelenting. We must not pass the buck to Birmingham, East Midlands or anywhere else where a new runway would cause environmental havoc.

If the growth of aviation is brought under control through fairer taxation (aviation is subsidised to the tune of pounds 7 billion per year, equivalent to 2p on the rate of income tax) and limits on capacity, there will be no need for a new runway in the Midlands during the next 30 years.

Existing runways at Birmingham and East Midlands could handle up to four times as many passengers as they do now, without the need for growth in smaller airports like Coventry.

Let's be clear about the impact of the new airport. Two villages would be flattened and life in a dozen others would become intolerable by noise, air pollution and new or bigger roads and railways. …

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