Aviation white paper is missed opportunity to manage demand

19 August 2005

Transport 2000 said today that the Government had missed an opportunity to manage demand for air travel and had opted instead for just a few warm words on the environment and a go-ahead for expansion of the aviation industry that would exacerbate social and environmental problems.

 

The environmental transport group was responding to the Government’s White Paper on aviation launched today. Despite the welcome principle that aviation should pay for its environmental and social impact, no framework has been announced for making this actually happen. Instead the Government has sanctioned extra runways at Stansted, Heathrow, Birmingham and possibly Edinburgh, with no change to Air Passenger Duty and no change to aviation’s tax exemptions in terms of fuel duty and VAT. Transport 2000 argues that a boosted Air Passenger Duty could form an environmental tax on air travel while ending aviation’s ‘tax-free’ status is essential if it is to pay its way.

 

Stephen Joseph, Director of Transport 2000, said: “We’ve heard a few warm words on the environment but little more than that. The industry certainly hasn’t been given the cold shower it needed to bring it into reality. This was the Government’s big opportunity to dampen down demand for aviation and bring its environmental and social problems under control but it hasn’t taken it. By opting for significant growth, the Government has issued a passport to much greater carbon emissions, pollution and noise nuisance in the future.”

 

Transport 2000 also criticised the White Paper for underplaying the role that high speed rail could have as a substitute for short-haul flights. Around 45 per cent of air journeys in the EuroControl countries are currently 500 kilometres or less in length: ideal for rail.

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