The Environmental Costs of Airport Expansion

A host of environmental issues has to be addressed first before an airport expansion takes place: worsening climate, more toxic air, and roaring engines, to name a few.

We are talking about sustainability—what kind of habitat will we be leaving the future generation? We owe it to them to keep the world a healthy place to live in.

Here are the environmental concerns that members and supporters of the Air Pledge has been raising through the years:

Making climate change worse

Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. Not only are airplanes heavy users of fuel, but the way that jet engines burn that fuel—producing nitrous oxides and high level clouds—triples its climate change impacts. Currently flying contributes 3.5% of global warming emissions world-wide. This could rise to 15% by 2050. If these expansion plans go ahead, aviation emissions will scupper the Government’s targets on climate change.

Increase in air pollution

Ancient woodlands, habitats, listed buildings across the country are all at risk. Air pollution around airports will continue to rise. New runways will also generate more car traffic and invariably will require new or wider roads.

Case in point: the Heathrow Airport in itself has gone over air pollution limits in the past 10 years. If a new runway is built, the problem will only be worse.

Increase in noise pollution

The noise experienced by people living around airports or under flight paths will grow. In the Heathrow Airport, for instance, more than 300,000 people will be exposed to noise.

There is no prospect of significantly quieter planes coming on-stream over the next 30 years. Already people under the flight paths to the busiest airports have to endure a plane every 90 seconds. They say it is like living under a sky of sound.

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