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Catherine urges Government to say no to airport expansion in South East

No new runways should be built at Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick airports, South East MEP Catherine Bearder said today.

key_airport.pngIt comes as a new Liberal Democrat aviation strategy is unveiled aimed at striking a balance between jobs and growth with the environmental impact of the air industry.

Catherine said: "I am opposed to increasing air travel and especially short haul flights. It poses a real threat to the global environment.

"I just don't see how the UK can allow unmitigated expansion of the aviation industry without missing its carbon reduction targets.

"Successive governments have failed to come up with a clear strategy supporting aviation while balancing its impact on the environment and residents living near airports."

The Liberal Democrats will table its strategy at the party's Autumn Conference in Brighton next month. The main points include:

- 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 Johnson's Thames Estuary airport idea

- No new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted airports

- An independent, evidence-based study to find a location for a hub airport or a suitable airport to expand into a hub for the long-term

- No airport capacity expansion which would allow aircraft movements above the carbon emissions cap set by the independent committee on climate change

Julian Huppert, the co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport, is leading the policy.

He said: "Aviation policy has focused on London and the South East and it is clear that is where the greatest demand lies.

"But airports and foreign travel for business or leisure must be accessible for citizens living across the UK - and noise and air quality must be minimised.

"With Birmingham looking to expand, Stansted only half full and Gatwick expanding into emerging markets, regional airports and other airports within London can meet demand for the short to medium term.

"Especially, if we provide them with the transport links they so desperately need. We recognise, however, that a single, hub airport - rather than a constrained Heathrow with multiple satellite airports - would be better for the environment and better for the economy in the long term."

Catherine added: "Enough is enough. The public deserve an airport policy which balances the benefits from aviation with the harms it can do to the environment globally and locally. I am confident that is exactly what we'll deliver."

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