Airports Policy Summary

Airport Policy in Britain

Consultation by the Department of Transport

Comments from Railfuture

Summary of Key Points:

1. "Predict-and-Provide" is as unacceptable in the air as on the roads. Neither on the ground nor in the air can unrestrained growth in demand for air travel be accommodated, especially in the south east.

2. Demand is inextricably linked to fare levels. With ever lower air fares, demand will inevitably soar. It follows that demand can be restrained by raising fares, for example by removing aviation's tax privileges.

3. Greenfield airports on new inland sites, especially mammoth 4-runway schemes, should be ruled out. All existing airports should be given a ceiling (in terms of runways & terminals) based on environmental considerations. Railfuture does not take a collective view either way on any particular airport proposal.

4. As much as possible of both domestic and short-haul international traffic, both passenger and freight, should be conveyed by rail rather than air or road, on environmental grounds (reduction of pollution etc.)

5. All main existing airports must have adequate rail access, and any new or expanded airport facilities must be rail connected from the outset. Airports need multiple high-quality rail links, not just branch lines, so that short-haul and feeder flights can be replaced by fast rail services in all directions (as has been done in continental Europe), not just shuttles to & from one terminal in one city.

Covering letter included the following:

In common with many organisations, we are unhappy with the design of the Questionnaires, which seem to be aimed at regular air travellers rather than the community at large. We shall not therefore be using the Questionnaire form of response, although we do seek to address the general issues raised therein.

This response will be concerned with national policy issues only, and not deal in any detail with the specifics of individual airport development proposals contained in the several regional consultation documents. Local Railfuture branches, affiliated rail user groups or individual members may comment on such proposals, individually or in association with local campaigning bodies.

Author: Mike Crowhurst with help from Ian MacDonald. November 2002