Responding to today’s Airports Commission report, which has recommended a new runway at Heathrow whilst leaving the door open to Gatwick expansion, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“This report looks at a false choice – expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick – when neither can be allowed if we're to stop runaway global warming.

“Building a new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow would have a hugely damaging impact on local people and their environment and would be a step backwards in UK efforts to tackle climate change.

“Airport expansion also risks worsening local air pollution levels which already breach legal limits.

“The UK Government will look ridiculous if it turns up at crucial climate talks in Paris later this year, claiming global leadership while at home having nodded through new runways, killed its onshore wind industry and foisted fracking on communities that don't want it.”

Notes to Editors

1. The case for expanding airport capacity is extremely weak. Taken together London’s five major airports serve more destinations than any other European city – over 360 with at least a weekly service
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil… (section 2.5)

2. The Committee on Climate Change says 37.5Mt CO2 is an appropriate cap for the UK's aviation emissions in 2050 to fit with the Climate Change Act http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/02/19/climate-change-committee-is-airport-exp…
However even if capped at the level the CCC suggests:
• aviation emissions would represent a quarter of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2050
• other sectors would have to cut emissions by 85% rather than the average 80% needed overall by 2050

3. 28% of people in Europe affected by aircraft noise live under the Heathrow flight paths

4. Friends of the Earth Scotland is in favour of air passenger duty being scrapped and replaced by a new frequent flyers levy. Under the scheme everyone would be able to take one flight a year without paying any levy, but for subsequent journeys the levy would rise each time: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/20/frequent-flyer-tax-leisure-…

5. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.