En­vi­ron­ment will be hit by air­port plan ‘dis­as­ter’

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Tom Dare Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

PLANS by Birm­ing­ham Air­port to nearly dou­ble pas­sen­ger num­bers by 2033 are a ‘dis­as­ter’ for the en­vi­ron­ment, a green Soli­hull coun­cil­lor has claimed.

And he says that, if the air­port goes through with its pro­pos­als, it will end up pro­duc­ing nearly dou­ble the amount of green­house gases as the en­tire city of Wolver­hamp­ton.

Ear­lier this month Birm­ing­ham Air­port an­nounced its ‘mas­ter­plan’ for the fu­ture, in­vest­ing £500 mil­lion in the hope of in­creas­ing pas­sen­ger num­bers to 18 mil­lion per year by 2033.

The air­port also says that its plans will see it in­crease its con­tri­bu­tion to the lo­cal econ­omy from £1.5 bil­lion to a fore­cast £2.1 bil­lion a year, while also cre­at­ing 34,000 jobs by 2033.

How­ever, Green coun­cil­lor Max McLough­lin (Shirley South, Soli­hull) be­lieves that not only will the air­port’s plans not con­trib­ute enough to the West Mid­lands, but that the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact will be dev­as­tat­ing for the re­gion.

“I think firstly we are 12 years away from ‘run­away cli­mate change’, and that’s the UN’s words, not my own,” he said. “So we are in a very dan­ger­ous and pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion. It’s very prob­lem­atic that we’re push­ing the largest source of pol­lu­tion within the re­gion to grow.

“But on the other side of it I think it’s much more im­por­tant to fo­cus on what the foun­da­tion of our econ­omy is, and de­vel­op­ing wealth that stays within the re­gion.

“We’re su­per­charg­ing growth in the wrong di­rec­tion. It is the largest source of green­house gases within the re­gion and, ac­cord­ing to our pro­jec­tions, it’s go­ing to be pro­duc­ing more CO2 than the city of Wolver­hamp­ton by 2030.

“That il­lus­trates the amount of pol­lu­tion that it’s pro­duc­ing so I’m very much con­cerned.

“In terms of the eco­nom­ics, I think a re­ally im­por­tant thing to say is that I don’t think it’s any se­cret that this re­gion is not where it was 40 or 50 years ago, eco­nom­i­cally, and cer­tainly not where it was 100 or 150 years ago. The only way in which we’re go­ing to de­velop in a glob­alised world is to find ways for more wealth to stay within the re­gion. And air­ports are not that. There’s very lit­tle wealth or eco­nomic growth within the re­gion from air­ports.

“To de­velop a foun­da­tion econ­omy, we’re talk­ing about help­ing SMEs to set up and de­velop, things that em­ploy more peo­ple and keep more wealth within lo­cal ar­eas. Air­ports don’t do that, and see wealth sucked not just out of a re­gion but out of the coun­try, to a greater ex­tent than they bring into the re­gion.

“So I’m con­cerned at them us­ing an eco­nomic ar­gu­ment be­cause it’s per­fectly cred­i­ble to say there are bet­ter eco­nomic ar­gu­ments for de­vel­op­ing an econ­omy.”

Cllr McLough­lin said he was dis­ap­pointed in West Mid­lands Mayor Andy Street’s sup­port for the air­port’s plans.

Mr Street spoke at the launch of the mas­ter­plan ear­lier this month, de­spite promis­ing in his man­i­festo to ‘get a grip on air pol­lu­tion’.

> Birm­ing­ham Air­port wants to dou­ble pas­sen­ger num­bers by 2033

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