WEST Midlands mayor Andy Street has hit back at allegations his ‘green agenda’ is in tatters after supporting the £500million Birmingham Airport expansion ‘disaster plan’.
As we reported last week, Solihull Green councillor Max McLoughlin slammed the airport’s draft masterplan, branding it ‘irresponsible’.
He claimed he was shocked to see Mr Street have his name associated with plans which would significantly increase the airport’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions footprint – on the back of a resounding ultimatum on climate change from the UN.
In response, Mr Street said: “Environmental considerations are very important in the debate about the future of Birmingham Airport, that’s why I was very clear in the mayoral election that I completely opposed a second runway – despite others calling for it.
“The airport has set out a range of mitigations as part of its plan including reducing taxing and better use of technology.
“By using the local airport it will also reduce the need to travel to other airports.
“And Birmingham Airport will have exceptional public transport access, including HS2.
“However, we have to reflect on the critical role the airport has in our future economic growth and providing jobs directly and as a catalyst for the regional economy.
“We need more routes to key commercial partners like India and we have to recognise that we are competing with other places for investments and jobs and having an improved airport is a key part of winning these jobs.”
The masterplan – to be delivered over the next 15 years – includes proposals to increase use of the airport’s existing runway, expand the passenger terminal and baggage sorting areas.
It also aims to improve security, acquire more aircraft parking stands and improve surrounding roads and infrastructure.
The investment aims to prepare the airport to attract 18million passengers by 2033.
The growth ambitions would make the airport the region’s largest single source of greenhouse gas, Coun McLoughlin claims.
Even before the airport expansion, it is projected to emit 1.7million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year by 2030, Department for Transport figures show.
An airport spokesperson said: “The airport’s carbon footprint is comparatively small, however, we are committed to managing our impact and since 2010 we have reduced our carbon emissions per passenger by over half.
“We are committed to attract airlines operating newer, greener jets, that carry more passengers per movement.”