27 November 2008
Essex Green Party is backing the RSPB in calling for the suggestion of a Thames Estuary airport to be scrapped. The Greens are also criticising Tory politicians for once again facing both ways on climate change and the environment.
Prominent Tories, including London Mayor Boris Johnson and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin are actively supporting the development of a Thames Estuary airport. Other Tory MPs and councillors in the region raise doubts about the science of climate change and try to hinder efforts to tackle the problem. The Green Party believes this shows a lack of understanding and will to protect the environment and tackle climate change and a default position of "business as usual" growth in aviation, seemingly with no end. And all this whilst the Tory leadership tries to paint the party green.
The RSPB has stated that increasing numbers of wildlife and birds in the Thames Estuary should scupper talk of an airport on an artificial island. Its Waterbirds in the UK 2006/2007 report places the estuary in the top five most important sites in the UK for water birds wintering or migrating.
Doug Oakervee, Chairman of Crossrail and the lead engineer in the construction of Hong Kong International Airport is to head a preliminary study on a new airport at the request of the Tory London Mayor and is due to report in early 2009.
"The RSPB is right to draw attention to the rich wildlife habitats of the Thames Estuary and the damage that developing an offshore airport there would cause.
But the offshore airport idea is wrong on many other levels as well. This would be yet another airport in the London area, in addition to Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton and all the others - none of which would go away if an estuary airport is built. Just how many airports do the Tories want?
Flight numbers over Essex would increase further, adding to the risk of air accidents, noise pollution and adding to UK climate change emissions.
Aviation is adding to UK greenhouse gas emissions, which both Labour and the Tories have pledged to radically cut, yet here they are, once again, both parties proposing major expansion of aviation, roads and associated development which will do the opposite.
London and the surrounding counties such as Essex are already becoming overdeveloped, congested and with a falling quality of life for many people due to pollution, congestion on the roads, overcrowded trains, noise and so on.
Someone also ought to tell Boris and Bernard that sea levels are rising and that the Thames estuary in particular is vulnerable to tidal surges. Building an off-shore airport could increase flooding risks - both for the airport and in the wider area. In the longer term, major sea level rises from the effects of climate change could threaten large areas of low lying land in the Thames Estuary and along the coast of Essex.
The Green Party believes that airport expansion must end. We need investment in sustainable transport, not yet more airports. High quality rail links both within the UK and with Europe could reduce short haul flights substantially. The Green Party actually believes in this policy - politicians from the other parties clearly do not."