My department’s business plan confirmed the coalition government’s decision not to support new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. It also committed the government to create a sustainable framework for aviation in the UK. This framework will replace the previous administration’s The Future of Air Transport white paper which, while recognising aviation’s economic benefits, failed to take sufficient account of climate change and the impact of aviation on local communities. Today I am publishing a scoping document which aims to define the debate as we develop a new long-term policy for UK aviation.
The government is committed to returning the UK to sustainable economic growth. Aviation has an important role to play in delivering that growth. It makes a significant contribution to the UK economy and provides the international connectivity this country needs to thrive in the highly competitive global economy. This government wants to see aviation prosper. Aviation should be able to grow, but it must also play its part in delivering our environmental goals and protecting the quality of life of local communities.
The government has made clear its commitment to meeting the challenge of climate change. Today, aviation contributes around six per cent of UK CO2 emissions but this share will increase as demand for air transport increases and other sectors of the economy reduce their emissions. The scoping document explores the most effective ways of addressing aviation’s environmental impacts, both global and local, and seeks answers to questions on both issues.
The publication of this scoping document represents the start of a dialogue to give a wide range of stakeholders an opportunity to contribute to the development of the policy framework. I expect the views expressed to be varied, and sometimes difficult to reconcile, but I want to move the aviation debate on from the polarisation which has characterised it in recent years, towards a consensus which balances the benefits that aviation brings with its impacts, both global and local.
We will publish a draft policy framework for public consultation in March 2012, and formally adopt the framework by March 2013.