The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report doesn't actually recommend expansion at any particular airport. What it does call for is dramatic cuts in government plans for aviation growth (from a 200% increase, which would happen if 'business as usual' growth were allowed to happen, to 60% by 2050) if legally-binding UK carbon reduction targets are to be achieved.
That would mean that government plans for airport expansion, as stated in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper, would need to be severely curtailed. And that a third runway at Heathrow could therefore happen only with huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the rest of the economy, and without most of the regional aviation development currently planned by government.
- the existing white paper must be scrapped as the CCC's report shows it's inconsistent with government carbon reduction targets for 2050, for the aviation industry and the UK as a whole
- there should be a moratorium on all UK airport expansion, including Heathrow, until a new air transport white paper and aviation national policy statement (NPS) are completed
Expansion at Heathrow would be a huge mistake as it suggests that, as a nation, we're not really serious about tackling climate change," says our head of transport policy ,Peter Lockley,. "It would lock the UK into a high-carbon infrastructure at a time when scientists are telling us to quickly reduce our emissions if we're to avoid dangerous climate change."
The current government supports the expansion of Heathrow airport, however, the Conservative party is opposed to this expansion and has committed to overturn the decision if they win the next election.
WWF-UK, along with other leading environmental groups, local authorities and residents groups, is continuing with its legal challenge against the government's controversial decision to expand Heathrow airport on the grounds that the consultation process was flawed and the decision was irrational. This case will be heard in High Court in February 2010.