Population Matters supports the campaign against the construction of a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport. Airport expansion, with all the negative consequences that ensue, is a product of population growth and an unsustainable approach to using the Earth’s resources. It is based on an economic model of growth before quality of life.
In 2016, the UK government announced its support for the runway at Heathrow over rival proposals, including from London’s second airport, Gatwick, all of which would have an environmental impact. It has justified the expansion in airport capacity largely in terms of economic growth, arguing that it “will better connect the UK to long haul destinations in growing world markets, boosting trade and creating jobs, passengers will benefit from more choice of airlines, destinations and flights”.
The price for these claimed benefits will include more emissions and faster climate change. With a third runway, Heathrow is expected to emit 23.6 million tonnes of CO2 every year, which Greenpeace has estimated to be as much as what 54 of the least polluting countries produce combined.
Expansion of Heathrow is also expected to lead to over 700 acres of green belt and woodland being destroyed, up to 950 homes demolished and 70,800 new houses built in an area that is already experiencing severe housing pressure.
Flights in the UK have increased steadily from 0.5 million to over 2 million between 1965 and 2015. This trend follows closely that of the UK’s population for the same period, which increased from 54 million to over 65 million. The majority of journeys are for leisure.
The government has supported the Heathrow proposal but a final decision will be made by Parliament in 2017. Over the next year there will be much debate over the third runway, including through a public consultation. This public debate offers a key opportunity for Population Matters and its supporters to highlight the environmental threats posed by airport expansion and to press for policies to limit population growth and help reduce the escalating demand for air travel.
What you can do
- The public consultation on the runway is now open. This is an in-depth and sometimes technical process but even providing a short response can be helpful. You can find more information about how to respond to the consultation on the website of Hacan, the campaign group opposing the runway here.
- Send an email to the Prime Minister via the 10 Downing St website to inform her of your opposition to airport expansion
- Contact the Secretary of State for Transport to oppose the third runway and demand transport policies which protect the environment and improve quality of life
- You can also contact your MP, although letters to politicians are likely to be more effective as the parliamentary vote draws nearer