Rehashing plans to build a third runway at Heathrow would be environmental suicide, a South East MEP has said today.
Tory MP Tim Yeo told the Daily Telegraph a new runway would mean the UK could stay in the economic premier league and allow our children to enjoy rising living standards.
But Catherine Bearder, a Lib Dem MEP for the South East, has said the suggestion would be disastrous for the environment.
She said: "It is a, frankly, short-sighted and naïve argument. How can we honestly talk about raising quality of life for future generations by leaving them with a catastrophic environmental disaster to try and clean-up?
"Make no mistake: this would be a genuine threat to our environment."
Mr Yeo, a former environment minister and head of the parliamentary climate change committee, suggested environmental objections are disappearing as greenhouse gas emissions from flying in the UK are now within the EU cap.
He told the Daily Telegraph today: "Indeed, we could cover the whole of Surrey with runways and not increase emissions by a single kilogram…"
Catherine added: "I just don't see how the UK can allow unmitigated expansion of the aviation industry without missing its carbon reduction targets.
"Yes, aircraft are getting cleaner, but how can that be an excuse to increase the number of flights taking to the skies?
"Successive governments have failed to come up with clear strategies to balance aviation with its impact.
"We must say enough is enough… a third runway at Heathrow would be environmental suicide."
Catherine has argued for the Government to look at airport provision across the whole country, rather than overloading the South East.
And last week she backed a new Liberal Democrat strategy aimed at blocking airport expansion in the region.
Julian Huppert, a Lib Dem MP and co-chair of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport, will table the strategy at next month's Autumn Conference.
The main points included:
- Pushing for better use of existing capacity in the South East and at regional airports to meet short to medium-term demand
- Firmly rejecting London Mayor Boris Johnston's Thames Estuary airport idea
- No new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted airport