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Destination Climate Chaos for Airport

news release

Photo Opportunity :Representatives from local groups will be submitting their responses to the consultation in person at 11:00am on Friday 29th September at Olympic House, Manchester Airport, M90 1QX (map).

Manchester Friends of the Earth [1] has slammed Manchester Airport’s 25-year expansion plans as environmentally irresponsible and fundamentally flawed. The ‘Master Plan’, which is currently under public consultation, proposes allowing passenger numbers to more than double by 2030, bringing even more pollution, noise and road traffic to the region.

On Friday 29th September, Manchester Friends of the Earth will join other like-minded groups at Manchester Airport to submit its response to the consultation on the airport’s plans. The group will be challenging a number of points in the airport’s proposed strategy.

The plan allows for a 30% increase in flights by 2015 and a further 10 million passengers per year by 2030. Manchester Friends of the Earth argues that the region’s transport infrastructure will not be able to cope with this level of growth and that it will lead to unacceptable levels of congestion and delays on the road networks. Forecasts predict that the critical section of the M56 between junctions 6 and 7 will be close to capacity by 2015 [2].

Such a massive increase in the volume of air traffic will also have catastrophic consequences for the environment. Aviation is the fastest growing source of climate changing emissions. If airports expand and the number of flights continues to grow at the current rate, it will make it virtually impossible for the UK or EU to meet pollution reduction targets designed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change [3]. The bottom line is that it simply isn’t possible to tackle the urgent issue of climate change whilst allowing passenger numbers to increase rapidly.

The plan puts great store on the supposed economic benefits to the local area provided by expansion of the airport. Few are visible in Wythenshawe, which, two miles from the airport, remains one of the most deprived wards in the country despite decades of airport expansion. Indeed research has shown that many regions actually lose more than they gain from airport expansion. The majority of forecast growth is based on outbound leisure travel, which means that the number of trips abroad by UK residents would increase far more than the number of visitors to the UK. While they are away, passengers from North West airports are spending five times as much as visitors to the North West are spending, according to 2005 figures. Further expansion of the region’s airports could create an annual tourism deficit of £4 billion by 2020 [4].

Manchester Airport also stresses its commitment to sustainable development and to controlling carbon emissions from airport operations. While on the surface this may seem laudable, it ignores the fact that carbon emissions from planes are by far the airport’s most polluting activity. So conversely, while the issue of emissions from airport operations will be addressed by the plan, the larger and much more critical issue of rising aircraft emissions will go completely unchecked.

Graeme Sherriff, spokesperson for Manchester Friends of the Earth, says: “The case for expansion put forward by Manchester Airport is inaccurate and misleading. The economic advantages have been heavily exaggerated, while the costs to both the economy and the environment have been ignored. The reality is that the costs of airport expansion outweigh the benefits. In our response to the airport’s plans we will be urging it to have a rethink and come up with a 25-year strategy based on what is good for local people, the local economy and the environment, rather than what is good for the airport.”


Notes to editors

[1] Manchester Friends of the Earth is a prominent campaigns 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 individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on its website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a national network of local groups, affiliated to the national organisation (further information can be found at

[2] Stated in page 58 of Manchester Airport’s Draft Master Plan.

[3] Growth scenarios for EU and UK aviation’ -Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, published by Friends of the Earth Trust:

[4] The figures were calculated by Friends of the Earth using statistics provided by the Office of National Statistics. For full details see the Friends of the Earth briefing: `Why airport expansion is bad for regional economies‘ (PDF).

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