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Uk Review Of 2003 White Paper on Airports Policy 19 December 2006

The UK Government has issued its review of the 2003 White Paper on Airports Policy, which set the framework within which all UK airports could plan to respond to the forecast growth in air travel.

The Isle of Man was not encompassed by the UK-only White Paper, but several of its proposals are of particular interest to the Island, including the proposed third runway at Heathrow, which could facilitate the re-introduction of air routes from the regions, including the Isle of Man.

The White Paper also covered the types of development that would be encouraged at Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and other major airports such as Birmingham and Manchester.

Isle of Man Airport Director Philip Pain said: ‘The review of the White Paper reconfirms the original findings, including the need to plan for further strong growth in demand. If such demand is not satisfied, it says the UK economy will suffer significantly and Heathrow, for example, could lose its pre-eminent place as a world hub.

‘From the Island’s perspective, the alternative prospect of increased congestion at major airports could be extremely detrimental, leading to further loss of access as slots become more difficult and expensive to obtain.’

The review deals extensively with environmental issues, as did the original White Paper. There is concern that aviation is a fast-growing sector in terms of carbon emissions, albeit one that only contributes 1.7% of worldwide CO2 emissions, and that if nothing is done to address aviation’s growing contribution, it could grow to 5% by 2050 and negate CO2 improvements in other sectors.

Mr Pain added: ‘The Department is aware that to respond to this concern the aviation industry as a whole is making significant efforts to maintain its present level of contribution, and that this will require real reductions in emissions in order to negate the effects of growth in activity.

‘These efforts include “carbon trading schemes”, which financially penalise the worst performing airlines, phasing out older aircraft; designing “cleaner” engines, and adopting innovative operational procedures both on the ground and in the air. The Department, therefore, supports the concept of aviation growing in a “carbon-neutral” way, as this will allow economies and trading activity to grow, including to and from the Island.

‘An issue that is of significant concern to the Island is the cost of air travel, and that “blunt measures” such as the recent increase in UK Air Passenger Duty do not have an adverse impact on the accessibility and attractiveness of the Island.

‘In this respect the Department recognises that aviation as a whole is one of the few transport industries where the consumers fully pay their way, in terms of its positive contribution to taxation, lack of subsidies, and covering – or fully intending to cover – the environmental costs. In addition, there are considerable overall economic benefits that it brings to economies and communities.’

The Department will be preparing its response to the White Paper review to send to the UK Government early in the New Year. The main point it will cover will be to stress the importance of continued capacity expansion at the main UK airports so that regional access does not suffer, and indeed is restored at airports such as Heathrow.

Mr Pain said: ‘The Department will also stress its support and commitment to any measures designed to ensure that aviation growth is “carbon neutral”. However, the Department will also point out the severe dis-benefits that can result from “blunt taxation” measures, which take little or no account of the fragile economics of air travel links between the Island and the many UK regions that our residents and visitors seek access to.’

For more information contact Philip Pain Airport Director, Isle of Man Airport Tel: 821601

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