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Plane Talking Public

news release

Manchester residents concerned about airport expansion

News Release

Embargo: 00:01 7th May 2003

Photo Opportunity (retrospective)

11am-2pm Saturday 3rd May, St. Ann’s Square. Mock airport check-in desk and campaigners dressed as air stewards and stewardesses.

On Saturday 3rd May Manchester Friends of the Earth [1] dressed as flight attendants in order to engage with the public over the proposals [2] to make Manchester Airport the Heathrow of the North. The public response was generally against such expansion which would increase traffic queues, air pollution, and locals’ sleepless nights.

Michael Gibson, a local market gardener from Knutsford said “Huge, low-flying aircraft, often directly overhead for days at a time, seem to be attacking us, on some days one a minute from 6am to 11pm. And there is a large quota of night flights. The noise and other pollution is awful”.

A woman who has lived in Flixton, near Urmston for 15 years, and has noticed noise pollution get much worse over the last 6 years: “It’s not handy when I’m trying to put my baby to sleep.”

A male resident of Monton, Eccles: “Just because you don’t live near the airport doesn’t mean you can’t feel empathy for the people who do.”

A woman from Ashton-under-Lyne: “We fly too much – this is an issue for clean air and child health.”

If plans go ahead, noise disruption would worsen across South Manchester and it is estimated that the number severely affected near the airport will increase from 43,000 to between 52-83,000 [3]. Airport expansion will be at the expense of local air quality and the health of residents who live close by. Air pollution causes lung and heart problems, cancer, chronic ill health and death. Car pollution and congestion would worsen, as expansion would create a huge amount of extra traffic on the M56, A513 and A538 [4]. Instead of creating jobs airport expansion may lead to job losses [5]. The expansion of Manchester Airport could cause the destruction of 22.5 hectares of ancient woodland [6].

Manchester FoE is urging Manchester residents to think seriously about the consequences of expansion to the aviation industry for Manchester and has created a website for them to learn more about the issues and to have their say in the Government’s consultation:

Kerstin Moritz, of Manchester FoE said, ‘We’ve shown that it’s not just us environmentalists who are concerned about the impacts of aviation industry expansion. Everyone will be affected, whether by noise, air pollution or climate change. That’s why everyone should have something to say about this consultation.’


Notes for Editors

[1] Manchester Friends of the Earth is a prominent pressure group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and ndividual donations. Up-to-date information is available on their website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a national network of local groups, affiliated to the national organisation (further information can be ound at

[2] The Government is currently considering the future of air transport in the UK. It is lanning a massive increase in air travel over the next 30 years. This would mean the expansion of airports and building of new ones – all with knock-on effects on communities across the UK not just people living near airports. In Manchester this could mean a trebling of passenger numbers to 70 million per year, a third runway and a fourth terminal making it the Heathrow of the North.

[3] The World Health Organisation has identified a long list of health implications arising from prolonged exposure to excessive noise levels, including hearing difficulties, stress related illnesses and heart disease. Aggressive and anti-social behaviour are also linked to noise pollution. The effects on performance e.g. problem-solving, reading, attentiveness and memory, arising in part from sleep disruption can also be debilitating in the long-term and cause accidents.

[4] Traffic congestion damages local, regional and national economies due to time delays. One frequently used estimate quotes an economic loss of £15 billion pa from traffic congestion. Manchester airport is responsible for 20% of traffic on key congested links of he motorway system serving the airport (Consultation Document for the North of England). The A5103, A538 and M56 are all at or predicted to be at 90-100% of capacity. Further it will damage the economy of Greater Manchester directly through economic losses associated with delay and indirectly through the loss of inward investment as an area heavily affected by congestion is less attractive to one which is not [The Economics of Aviation: a North of England Perspective, April 2003, Prof. John Whitelegg]

[5] Researchers have shown that increasing airport capacity is just as likely to result in outflow of investment as it is in inflow [Transport and the Economy, The Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment, DETR, London] and this is especially true if ground transport is neglected. In fact the investment deficit is enough to account for the loss of 65,000 jobs each year in the North West [The Economics of Aviation: a North of England Perspective, April 2003, Prof. John Whitelegg].

[6] The specific areas that are under risk as a result of aviation proposals for Manchester airport are: Cotterill Clough, Oversley Farm Wood, and Hooksbank Wood. See for details.

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